Britain has announced sanctions against Iran’s morality police in its entirety as well as its national chief and the head of its Tehran division in response to the violent suppression of protests since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.
The morality police have been responsible for the street patrols forcing women to wear hijab and attend re-education classes on modesty and chastity. Amini was stopped by the morality police over her clothing while walking in a park in Tehran and taken into detention.
Similar sanctions have already been imposed by the US and are set to be imposed by the EU.
Apart from the Iranian morality police as an institution, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said sanctions were being slapped on its chief, Mohammed Gachi, and the head of its Tehran division, Haj Ahmad Mirzaei.
The FCDO said there had been reports of live ammunition being used against protesters, including when students were blockaded by security forces at Sharif university last week, and of the bodies of protesters killed by security services being buried without the families’ knowledge.
“The UK stands with the people of Iran, who are bravely calling for accountability from their government and for their fundamental human rights to be respected,” said the British foreign secretary, James Cleverly. “These sanctions send a clear message to the Iranian authorities – we will hold you to account for your repression.”
Separately, sanctions were also imposed on five officials for their role in suppressing 2019 protests.
Travel bans and asset freezes were imposed on Gholamreza Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Basij force, responsible for internal security in Iran; Hassan Karami, the commander of the Naja special forces unit of the Iranian police; Hossein Ashtari, the commander-in-chief of the Iranian police; Leila Vaseghi, a former governor of Shahr-e Qods province, and Hassan Shahvarpour, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Khuzestan province.
The sanctions are intended to ensure that the individuals listed cannot travel to the UK, and that any of their assets held in the UK, or by UK persons anywhere, will be frozen.