LONDON: Britain said on Monday it was sanctioning two dozen Iranian officials including a government minister over what it called a “violent repression of protests” sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody.
The sanctions, coordinated with international partners, include Iranian Communications Minister Issa Zarepour as well as the chief of its cyber police, Vahid Mohammad Naser Majid, and a range of political and security officials, the British foreign office said in a statement.
“These sanctions target officials within the Iranian regime who are responsible for heinous human rights violations,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said.
“Together with our partners, we have sent a clear message to the Iranian regime — the violent crackdown on protests must stop and freedom of expression must be respected.”
Britain said Zarepour and Majid had been sanctioned for shutting down the Internet in Iran, including disabling WhatsApp and Instagram as part of a wider clampdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans.
The protests in Iran, sparked by the Sept. 16 death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody, mark one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
Hundreds of demonstrators have been killed in the unrest and several thousands more detained, according to the activist HRANA news agency.
The European Union also imposed sanctions on a further 29 Iranian officials and three organizations for the crackdown on protests over the death of Mahsa Amini.
Those hit with visa bans and asset freezes included Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi and state broadcaster Press TV, which was accused of airing “forced confessions of detainees,” an EU statement said.
Meanwhile, the US expressed concern on Monday about reports of mass arrests, sham trials and a death sentence for protesters in Iran and said human rights abuses inflicted by the government must not go without consequences.
“The United States, standing with our partners and allies around the world, will continue to pursue accountability for those responsible for these abuses through sanctions and other means,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. He welcomed new sanctions adopted by the European Union and United Kingdom.