To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, the United States, Britain, the European Union, and Australia imposed sanctions on more than a dozen Iranian government and security officials, business leaders, companies, and government institutions for human rights abuses of women and girls. The United States is “deeply concerned” that Iran has suppressed dissent and peaceful protesters through mass arrests, sham trials, hasty executions, the detention of journalists, and sexual violence, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. “Together with allies and partners around the world, we continue to take action to support the people of Iran in the face of these and other human rights abuses by the Iranian regime.”
The coordinated action by 30 nations, which include some of the world’s largest economies, reflected mounting disgust with Iran’s abuse of its girls and women. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned that the new sanctions sent “a clear message that the perpetrators of abhorrent gender-based violence must be held accountable.”
The sanctions froze all assets of the designated people and organizations in the United States and restricted any transactions using dollars or the American financial system. They also froze assets of those cited in Britain and the European Union. The measures banned travel to Britain for the designated man. The E.U. sanctions prohibited anyone from providing funds or resources to the prison it designated. The following are lists of those sanctioned and statements from the United States, Britain, and European Union.
The United States sanctioned the following people and companies:
- Ali Chaharmahali, the director general of prisons in Alborz Province
- Dariush Bakhshi, Head of Orumiyeh Central Prison
- Mahdi Amiri, technical director of the Prosecutor General’s Office Cyberspace Affairs Deputy
- Sayyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, commander-in-chief of the Army
- Habib Shahsavari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Shohada Provincial Corps in West Azerbaijan province
- Reza Asgharian, CEO of Naji Pas Company
- Gholamreza Ramezanian Sani, CEO of Entebagh Gostar Sepehr Company
- Bahram Abdollahinejad, CEO of Naji Pars Amin Institute
The United States sanctioned the following companies:
- Naji Pas Company, which supplies the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), Iran’s national police
- Entebagh Gostar Sepehr Company, which manufactures riot control equipment for the LEF
- Naji Pars Amin Institute, which provides security services under the LEF
Britain sanctioned the following man and organization:
- Seyyed Mohammed Saleh Hashemi Golpayegani, head of the Headquarters for Enjoining Right and Forbidding Evil
- Headquarters for Enjoining Right and Forbidding Evil, which has enforced mandatory dress codes for women
The European Union sanctioned the following prison:
- Qarchak Prison, a notorious detention facility for women in Tehran province
Secretary of State Blinken
“Today – on International Women’s Day – the United States is taking action in coordination with the European Union, United Kingdom, and Australia to promote accountability for the Iranian regime’s continued human rights abuses, particularly those against women and girls, including those conducted in the course of the brutal crackdown on protests that erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini. To that end, the United States is designating two Iranian officials overseeing prisons in Iran, two senior Iranian security leaders, three companies that supply Iranian law enforcement, and the heads of these companies, as well as a high ranking law enforcement official.
“The U.S. Department of the Treasury is imposing sanctions on Ali Chaharmahali, the Director General of Prisons in Alborz Province, and Dariush Bakhshi, the Head of Orumiyeh Central Prison. Both officials were complicit in the mistreatment of inmates in their custody by security forces, including through rape, torture, or other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. Treasury is also sanctioning the Technical Director of the Cyberspace Affairs Deputy of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Iran, Mahdi Amiri, for acting on behalf of an entity that has engaged in censorship or other activities that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or assembly.
“Further, Treasury is sanctioning Sayyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Army, and Habib Shahsavari, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Shohada Provincial Corps in West Azerbaijan Province. IRGC forces under the command of Shahsavari are alleged to have routinely detained and tortured individuals at IRGC detainment facilities in West Azerbaijan Province, and Iranian army personnel under Mousavi’s command reportedly fired machine guns at protestors in November 2019.
“Finally, Treasury is sanctioning Naji Pas Company, an Iranian firm that supplies the Law Enforcement Forces of Iran (LEF), Iran’s national police force, with specific equipment and goods; its CEO, Reza Asgharian; Entebagh Gostar Sepehr Company, a company that produces riot control equipment used by LEF units tasked with crowd suppression and cracking down on protestors; its CEO, Gholamreza Ramezanian Sani; Naji Pars Amin Institute, a company that provides security and protection services under the supervision of the LEF; and its CEO, Bahram Abdollahinejad.
“The United States remains deeply concerned that Iranian authorities continue to suppress dissent and peaceful protest, including through mass arrests, sham trials, hasty executions, the detention of journalists, and the use of sexual violence as a means of protest suppression. Together with allies and partners around the world, we continue to take action to support the people of Iran in the face of these and other human rights abuses by the Iranian regime.”
“Today, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is sanctioning several Iranian regime officials and entities, including two senior officials in Iran’s prison system who have been responsible for serious human rights abuses against women and girls. OFAC is also taking action against the top commander of the Iranian army and a high-ranking leader in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as an Iranian official who was central to the regime’s efforts to block internet access. Finally, OFAC is sanctioning three Iranian companies and their leadership for enabling the violent repression by the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) of peaceful protestors, including many women and girls.
“Iran’s prisons are notorious for mistreatment, abuse, and death. Women prisoners, especially, suffer sexual violence, torture, and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.
“’The United States, along with our partners and allies, stand with the women of Iran, who advocate for fundamental freedoms in the face of a brutal regime that treats women as second-class citizens and attempts to suppress their voices by any means,’ said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. ‘We will continue to take action against the regime, which perpetuates abuse and violence against its own citizens—especially women and girls.’”
“Marking International Women’s Day, Treasury is taking this action in coordination with allies and partners — the European Union, United Kingdom, and Australia — demonstrating a unified commitment to holding the Iranian regime to account for denying the women and girls of Iran their human rights and dignity. These designations are pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13553, which authorizes the imposition of sanctions on certain persons with respect to serious human rights abuses by the Government of Iran, and E.O. 13846, which authorizes sanctions on persons who engage in censorship or other activities with respect to Iran.
“This is the tenth round of OFAC designations targeting the Iranian regime for its crackdown on peaceful demonstrators and depriving the Iranian people of access to the global internet since nationwide protests began in September 2022.
“Ali Chaharmahali (Chaharmahali) is the Director-General of Alborz Province Prisons, a region that is home to some of Iran’s most notorious prisons. Protestors who have been sent to prisons under Chaharmahali’s oversight have been tortured and pressured into forced confessions. Prior to serving as the Director-General of Alborz Province Prisons, Chaharmahali served as warden of the infamous Evin Prison, under whose oversight prison officials, including members of the IRGC, tortured political opponents of the regime, including through the use of electrocutions, burnings, and severe beatings. Female inmates at Evin Prison during Chaharmahli’s tenure were frequently threatened with rape as a form of coercion. The women’s ward of Evin Prison lacks women’s health services and women have been denied access to medical care.
“Dariush Bakhshi (Bakhshi) serves as the head of Orumiyeh Central Prison in West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. Women in Orumiyeh Central Prison, including protestors, have been subjected to sexual violence and other forms of mistreatment at the hands of prison officials and IRGC interrogators. Prisons officials under Bakshi’s oversight have used their positions of power to coerce women inmates into having sexual relations in exchange for better treatment, such as short furloughs from prison. Bakhshi has personally overseen the physical abuse of prisoners held for political or religious reasons. Prison officials in his jurisdiction have attacked such prisoners with batons, tear gas, and electroshock weapons.
“Chaharmahali and Bakhshi are being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for being persons acting on behalf of the Government of Iran (GoI) (including members of paramilitary organizations) who are responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Iran or Iranian citizens or residents, or the family members of the foregoing, on or after June 12, 2009, regardless of whether such abuses occurred in Iran.
LEF PROCUREMENT COMPANIES
“Iranian company Naji Pas Company (Naji Pas) is responsible for supplying Iran’s security services, including the LEF, with equipment and consumable goods from domestic and international suppliers.
“The LEF, which has routinely employed lethal force to suppress Iranian protests, was designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 on June 9, 2011, for being responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election.
“Additionally, Naji Pas helps organize Iran’s annual International Police, Safety, and Security Equipment (IPAS) exhibition, which is attended by hundreds of companies looking to sell equipment and technology to the LEF. Reza Asgharian (Asgharian), the CEO of Naji Pas, has played a leading role in the IPAS exhibition.
“Naji Pas is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the LEF.
“Asgharian is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Naji Pas.
“Naji Pars Amin Institute (Naji Pars) is licensed by the LEF to provide a wide range of protection and security services for various Iranian businesses and government facilities under the supervision of the LEF. Naji Pars specializes in protection and surveillance matters and provides advisory services and training to the LEF. The LEF is directly involved in management of Naji Pars’ business operations. Bahram Abdollahinejad (Abdollahinejad) is the CEO of Naji Pars.
“Naji Pars is being designated for being owned or controlled by, directly or indirectly, the LEF.
“Abdollahinejad is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Naji Pars.
“Entebagh Gostar Sepehr Company, under the leadership of its CEO, Gholamreza Ramezanian Sani (Sani), manufactures or imports a wide variety of police-related equipment, much of which is used by the LEF to violently suppress protests. Its products include equipment ranging from electroshock weapons and bulletproof gear to sniper rifles and firearm accessories such as stocks and silencers.
“Entebagh Gostar Sepehr Company is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the LEF.
“Sani is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13553 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Entebagh Gostar Sepehr Company.
“Mahdi Amiri (Amiri) serves as the Technical Director of the Cyberspace Affairs Deputy of the Prosecutor General’s Office. In this role, Amiri has worked directly with Iran’s chief internet censorship body, the Committee for Determining Instances of Criminal Content (CDICC), and the Iranian Cyber Police to block and censor content on certain websites. Iranian authorities have repeatedly used internet filtering, such as blocking websites and internet shutdowns, to quell protests by limiting communication and the sharing of information.
“Mahdi Amiri is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13846 for acting or having purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the CDICC, a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13628, which was revoked and superseded by E.O. 13846. The CDICC was designated pursuant to E.O. 13628 on May 30, 2013, for engaging in censorship or other activities with respect to Iran on or after June 12, 2009, that prohibit, limit, or penalize the exercise of freedom of expression or assembly by citizens of Iran or that limit access to print or broadcast media.
OVERSEEING PROTEST SUPPRESSION
“Sayyed Abdolrahim Mousavi (Mousavi) has served as the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Army (IRIA) since August 2017. Units under his control have been involved in the suppression of demonstrations during both the November 2019 economic protests and protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022. Troops under Mousavi’s command used machine guns to fire indiscriminately into crowds of protestors.
“Mousavi is being designated for being an official of the GoI or a person acting on behalf of the GoI (including members of paramilitary organizations) who is responsible for or complicit in, or responsible for ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Iran or Iranian citizens or residents, or the family members of the foregoing, on or after June 12, 2009, regardless of whether such abuses occurred in Iran.
“Habib Shahsavari (Shahsavari) acts as the IRGC Commander of the Shohada Provincial Corps in West Azerbaijan Province. Shahsavari also served as one of the deputy commanders of IRGC’s northwest Hamzeh Sayyid al-Shohada Headquarters. Shahsavari previously served as the commander of the IRGC’s West Azerbaijan Martyrs Corp, where forces under his command reportedly detained and tortured individuals in IRGC intelligence detention centers. His subordinates reportedly have shot and killed civilians in West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan.
“Shahsavari is being designated for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the IRGC, a person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to E.O. 13553.
“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. All transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons are prohibited.
“In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action. Furthermore, unless an exception applies, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the persons designated today could be subject to U.S. sanctions.
“The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897 here. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.
“Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has today (8 March) announced a new package of sanctions aimed at human rights violators, particularly those who target women and girls.
“This package includes 4 individuals and 1 entity involved in grievous activities, including military figures who have overseen rape and other forms of gender-based violence in conflicts in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. It also sanctions government institutions in Iran responsible for enforcing mandatory dress codes for women in Iran with unreasonable force.
“The tough sanctions were announced after the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office earlier launched a new strategy which aims to tackle increasing threats to gender equality, from conflict to humanitarian crises to climate change.
“Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:
“’Promoting gender equality brings freedom, boosts prosperity and trade, and strengthens the security of us all. However, hard-won gains on gender equality are under increasing threat.
“‘These sanctions send a clear message that the perpetrators of abhorrent gender-based violence must be held accountable.
“‘We are increasing our efforts to stand up for women and girls, and will use all the tools at our disposal to tackle the inequalities which remain.’
“Those sanctioned today are:
- Major General James Nando, who commanded the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, the main perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence in Tambura County in 2021
- Mahamat Salleh Adoum Kette, in Central Africa Republic (CAR), who has overseen rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence committed by Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC) and Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) fighters
- Amjad Youssef, a member in ‘227 Region Branch’, who has been involved in repressing the civilian population in Syria, including through systematic rape and killing of civilians
- the Headquarters for Enjoining Right and Forbidding Evil in Iran, and its head official Seyyed Mohammed Saleh Hashemi Golpayegani, who have been responsible for the enforcement of mandatory dress codes for women with unreasonable force
“The Foreign Secretary is currently in Sierra Leone launching the FCDO’s first Women and Girls Strategy, which puts the rights of women and girls at the heart of everything the department does.
“He has been visiting his mother’s hometown of Bo to see how UK-funded projects are helping women and girls. He is today visiting a Special Care Baby Unit at the Bo Government Hospital, where UK support is improving blood banks and equipment, increasing electricity access, supporting patients’ health and safety and saving the lives of pregnant women.
“At a secondary school he was able to hear from schoolgirls about their aspirations for the future. The UK is supporting and empowering girls to understand their sexual and reproductive rights.
“This afternoon he will meet members of a cross-party group of women MPs in Sierra Leone who have been instrumental in delivering legislation in support of women’s empowerment. Together they have successfully supported the passing of a landmark Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Bill, after over 12 years of advocacy from civil society groups.
“Separately, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence, is in New York meeting members of a new international alliance set up by the UK to drive action on preventing sexual violence in conflict, which is convening for the first time today.
“He will announce that the UK is committing a further £430,000 to the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims. He will be joined virtually by the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, who welcoming the alliance said:
“’I am grateful to the United Kingdom for the initiative to create the International Alliance to Prevent Sexual Violence in Conflict. We have high hopes for the newly created Alliance. If war crimes are committed somewhere, they are crimes against all of humanity, against human rights, against the rules of international coexistence. It is only together that we can fight for this.’”
- the UK government’s sanctions today build on a similar wave of sanctions in December 2022, which included 18 designations targeting individuals involved in violations and abuses of human rights, 6 of whom were perpetrators responsible for conflict-related sexual violence and related crimes
- photography from the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Sierra Leone is on UK government Flickr
- the individuals sanctioned today are subject to an asset freeze and travel ban. The entity is subject to an asset freeze
- an asset freeze prevents any UK citizen, or any business in the UK, from dealing with any funds or economic resources which are owned, held or controlled by the designated person
- a travel ban means that the designated person must be refused leave to enter or to remain in the United Kingdom
- the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund provides victims with financial reparations as well as help with their physical and psychological rehabilitation. It also helps provide access to education and with finding paid work
- read the FCDO’s International Women and Girls Strategy
- read a separate press release on the strategy”
“The Council decided today to impose restrictive measures on nine individuals and three entities in view of their role in committing serious human rights violations and abuses, particularly sexual and gender-based violence. Today’s action reaffirms the EU’s determination to promote and protect human rights around the world.
“'Ahead of the International Women´s Day, we move from words to action. No matter where it happens, we will combat and eliminate all forms of violence against women. With today´s decision, we are enhancing efforts to counter sexual and gender-based violence, to ensure that those responsible are fully accountable for their actions, and to combat impunity.'”
-Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
“The new listings include:
- two acting Taliban ministers for Higher Education and for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, who are behind the decrees banning women from higher education and gender-segregated practices in public spaces
- officers of the Moscow Police Station responsible for arbitrary arrests and detentions as well as torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the context of the censorship and oppression led by the Russian authorities. The listings will also target high-ranking members of the Russian armed forces, whose units systematically participated in acts of sexual and gender-based violence in Ukraine in March/April 2022, in the context of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine
- government officials commanding South Sudanese militias responsible for the widespread and systematic use of sexual and gender-based violence as a war tactic in the country
- the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs in Myanmar/Burma
- the Qarchak Prison in Iran, the Syrian Republican Guard and the Office of the Chief of Military Security Affairs in Myanmar/Burma are sanctioned in view of their roles in serious sexual and gender-based human rights violations
“The listed individuals and entities will now be subject to an asset freeze in the EU. In addition, listed individuals will be subject to a travel ban to the EU. Moreover, persons and entities in the EU will be prohibited from making funds available, either directly or indirectly, to those listed.
“The relevant legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, have been published in the Official Journal of the EU.
“On 7 December 2020, the Council established a global human rights sanctions regime which applies to acts such as genocide, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations or abuses (e.g. torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests or detentions). The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime underscores the Union’s determination to enhance its role in addressing serious human rights violations and abuses worldwide. Realising the effective enjoyment of human rights by everyone is a strategic goal of the Union. Respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights are fundamental values of the Union and its common foreign and security policy.
“In its conclusions of 14 November 2022, the Council expressed concern about the disproportionate effect that armed conflicts continue to have on women and girls worldwide, as well as the prevalence of sexual and gender-based violence including conflict-related sexual violence, offline and online. It committed to enhanced efforts to counter such violence in order to ensure full accountability and to combat impunity.
“Furthermore, in its conclusions of June 2014, the Council stressed that combating and eliminating all forms of violence against women requires coordinated policies at all relevant levels and a comprehensive approach targeting the key issues of prevention, under-reporting, protection, victim support, and the prosecution of perpetrators as well as other measures. The strategic use of restrictive measures reinforces this approach by increasing pressure to prevent further violations and abuses and, in coordination with other EU instruments in the human rights toolbox, draws attention to these violations and abuses and those responsible.”