Obama tough with Iran
WASHINGTON – United States President Barack Obama has ordered unprecedented sanctions against senior Iranian officials for “sustained and severe violations of human rights”.
The eight men include the head of the Revolutionary Guards, a former interior minister and the prosecutor general.
The treasury department said they would face a travel ban and asset freeze.
The alleged abuses include the killings and beatings of anti-government protesters after the disputed presidential election in June 2009.
The authorities launched a brutal crackdown, during which opposition and human rights groups accused the security forces of extra-judicial killings, rapes and torture. Thousands were held without charge.
Over the subsequent six months, at least 40 protesters were killed; the opposition said more than 70 died. At least two people have been executed for related offences, and dozens imprisoned.
In a statement, the White House said: “As the president noted in his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, human rights are a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity for the United States.”
“The United States will always stand with those in Iran who aspire to have their voices heard. We will be a voice for those aspirations that are universal, and we continue to call upon the Iranian government to respect the rights of its people.”
Any assets in the United States held by the eight Iranians will be frozen, and United States citizens and companies will be prohibited from doing business with them.
Clinton said it was the first time the United States had imposed sanctions against Iran for human rights abuses. (AP)