US sanctions Iran’s interior minister over human rights abuses

The sanctions target Interior Minister and chair of Iran’s National Domestic Security Council (NDSC), Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, seven law enforcement officials and an IRGC commander. (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 May 2020

US sanctions Iran’s interior minister over human rights abuses

  • US imposed sanctions on Fazli, senior law enforcement and military officials over human rights abuses
  • The action freezes any US-held assets of those blacklisted

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iran’s interior minister, accusing him of having a role in serious human rights abuse, including giving orders that led to violence against peaceful protesters, the US Treasury Department said.
The Treasury said in a statement that Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli gave orders authorizing the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) to use lethal force in response to protests in November, leading to the killing of protesters, including at least 23 minors.
The Treasury’s action on Wednesday also blacklisted seven senior officials of the LEF and a provincial commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The LEF Cooperative Foundation — which the Treasury said is controlled by the LEF and which is active in Iran’s energy, construction, services, technology and banking industries — was also blacklisted, as were its director and members of the board of trustees. The organization’s name in Iran is Bonyad Taavon NAJA.
Wednesday’s action freezes any US-held assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
“The United States will continue to hold accountable Iranian officials and institutions that oppress and abuse their own people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have spiked since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018 from the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased under the accord.


Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2020

Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

  • The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

GENEVA: Rival parties in Yemen’s war opened UN-sponsored talks on Friday aimed at an exchange deal for the release of more than 1,400 prisoners, the UN said.
The internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden in 2018.
The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.
“The #Yemen Prisoners & Detainees Committee meeting started today. I am grateful to #Switzerland for hosting it & to @ICRC for co-chairing,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths tweeted, without giving an exact location for the talks.

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The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.

“My message to the Parties is: conclude discussions, release detainees swiftly, bring relief to thousands of Yemeni families,” he wrote.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for its part, said it was ready to help with the return of detainees to their families.
A source close to Yemen’s presidency said on Wednesday that the talks in Switzerland would “lay out the final touches” after agreement was reached with the ICRC “on all logistical arrangements.”
Gen. Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with several politicians and journalists, would be among those released, he said.
A former senior intelligence official, the general has been held by the rebels ever since they overran Sanaa in late 2014.
The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.