US orders sanctions against top Iranian officials
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US President Barack Obama on Wednesday ordered sanctions against eight senior Iranian officials for alleged human rights abuses against protestors of the country’s disputed 2009 elections.
"This is the first time the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran based on human rights abuses," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a press conference.
The eight targeted for sanctions "share responsibility for the sustained and severe violation of human rights in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election," the Treasury Department said in a statement.
Clinton added that "on these officials' watch or under their command Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed and killed”.
Incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the poll galvanised hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters to take to the streets in protest, defying a government ban.
The Treasury Department, citing Iran's state media, said 37 people died and hundreds were arrested in the unrest.
Among those under sanctions are Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi and former Interior Minister, Sadeq Mahsouli.
All of their US assets will be frozen and they will also be denied entry to the United States.
Mahsouli’s forces were responsible for attacks on the dormitories of Tehran University on 15 June 2009, during which students were "tortured and ill-treated," the State Department said in a statement.
The sanctions come after critics had urged the US government to do more to support the ongoing protest movement.
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