United for Iran Welcomes New Human Rights Sanctions, Urges Further Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 9, 2012) – Yesterday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated four Iranian officials and five Iranian entities as human rights abusers, bringing the total number to 16 individuals and 9 entities sanctioned for human rights violations under U.S. law. United for Iran welcomes the imposition of these additional targeted sanctions, but urges the U.S. Government to impose similar measures on a full range of human rights abusers in Iran. “Since the flawed 2009 presidential elections, the Iranian Government has escalated its brutal suppression of basic freedoms and human rights, through torture, intimidation, censorship, executions, and even rape. Yet, in the absence of rule of law, those Iranian officials responsible for the commission of widespread abuses have largely enjoyed impunity,” said Dokhi Fassihian, United for Iran’s Director of Programs and Advocacy. “The U.S. and the international community must go further to hold accountable all Iranian authorities who are culpable for suppressing the fundamental rights of their people.” Just this week, Iranian officials are suspected of torturing to death a blogger simply for his criticisms of the government on Facebook. Iran’s cyber-police arrested Sattar Beheshti from his home in Robat-Karim under arbitrary charges of “acting against national security” as a result of his activities on online social networking sites. Beheshti was then taken to Evin Prison, notorious for its vast population of political prisoners, where he died during detention. The Iranian Government’s deeply disturbing and criminal treatment of Beheshti has highlighted the plight of hundreds of political prisoners in Iran. Recently, nine female political prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest snap body searches and other abuses by prison guards. Human rights defender and winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Nasrin Sotoudeh, remains on hunger strike, as many fear for her deteriorating health. In his most recent report to the United Nations General Assembly, Dr. Ahmed Saheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, gave a scathing assessment of the growing human rights crisis in the country. He expressed deep concern for Iran’s treatment of activists, journalists, human rights defenders, political opposition, women, and ethnic and religious minorities—many of whom face threats, arbitrary detention, torture, and death for merely exercising their rights to free speech and opinion. Until the Iranian Government can verifiably improve its record and comply with its international human rights obligations, the international community has an obligation to stand up for the Iranian people and hold their government to account for its vast transgressions. In its recent report, United for Iran found the global response to Iran’s crackdown since 2009 to be timid and vastly overshadowed by the focus on curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions at the expense of human rights in the country. United for Iran reiterates it calls on the U.S. Government and the international community to elevate human rights promotion, including the imposition of targeted sanctions on the full range of human rights abusers.