Australia imposes sanctions on Iran’s morality police and 13 Russians and Iranians

Penny Wong announces Magnitsky-style sanctions to punish Iran’s violent crackdown on protesters and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The Australian government will use human rights sanctions to punish “egregious human rights violations and abuses” by Iranian and Russian perpetrators.

The Australian foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, announced the Magnitsky-style sanctions (named for the lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison after exposing corruption in Russia) have been imposed on 13 Russian and Iranian individuals.

Iran’s morality police and the paramilitary Basij Resistance Force are also subject to the sanctions after Australia joined other western nations to condemn their actions.

The Iranian groups and individuals were “involved in the violent crackdown on protests following the death of student Mahsa ‘Jina’ Amini and the continued oppression of the people of Iran”, Wong said in a joint statement with the assistant foreign affairs minister, Tim Watts.

“Seven Russian individuals involved in the attempted assassination of former opposition leader Alexei Navalny will also have human rights sanctions imposed on them.”

Amini died in custody after being detained by Iran’s morality police. Navalny was targeted because he is a Russian opposition leader and enemy of Vladimir Putin.

The Magnitsky laws were legislated a year ago, and used for the first time in March by the previous Australian government, which imposed sanctions on 37 Russians. The sanctions include freezing assets, travel bans and financial sanctions to make sure Australia “does not become a safe haven for those already locked out of like-minded countries and their financial systems”, the former foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said at the time.

The individuals named in the government’s legislation include Hossein Ashtari, the Iranian police commander-in-chief, and Gholamreza Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Basij force.

There are also sanctions on three Iranian individuals and a business that is involved with supplying drones to Russia to use in its war on Ukraine.

“Russia is using Iranian-made drones to target civilians and critical infrastructure, with the intention of denying Ukrainian people energy, heating and water as they face freezing winter temperatures,” Wong said.

“The supply of drones to Russia is evidence of the role Iran plays in destabilising global security. This listing highlights that those who provide material support to Russia will face consequences.”

Wong said the sanctions targeted “grievous human rights situations where the perpetrators continue to act with impunity”.

“The Australian government calls on countries to exert their influence on Russia to end its illegal, immoral war,” she said.

“Australia stands with the people of Ukraine and with the people of Iran. We employ every strategy at our disposal towards upholding human rights – ranging from dialogue and diplomacy to sanctions – consistent with our values and our interests.

“The Albanese government’s approach is to deal with the world as it is, and seek to shape it for the better.”

The Uyghur community has been urging the Albanese government to use the Magnitsky laws against Chinese officials, declaring that the Chinese persecution of Uyghurs in Xinjiang is genocide.

A spokesperson for Wong said she had “made clear the United Nations findings of serious human rights violations in Xinjiang, some of which may constitute crimes against humanity, are deeply concerning”.


Tory Shepherd

The GuardianTramp

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