The U.S. has enacted new sanctions against Iran for censorship and alleged human rights violations. Iran has a long history of human rights abuses and harsh action against political dissidents — particularly activists seeking governmental change within the country. Many female activists and protesters seeking equal rights have also been persecuted under the laws of the strict Islamic regime’s heavy fist.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin stated this week that,

Iran not only exports terrorism and instability across the world, it routinely violates the rights of its own people. The Iranian regime diverts national resources that should belong to the people to fund a massive and expensive censorship apparatus and suppress free speech. Those who speak out against the regime’s mismanagement and corruption are subject to abuse and mistreatment in Iran’s prisons. America stands with the people of Iran, and Treasury is taking action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for ongoing human rights abuses, censorship, and other despicable acts it commits against its own citizens.”

The individuals being sanctioned include three of the leading members of the paramilitary forces of Ansar-e Hezbollah. The far-right pro-government organization that is famous for its violent enforcement of government mandates. They routinely target citizens wearing western style clothes, especially woman who do not cover their hair properly; they also go after students and journalists who speak out against the Iranian government. Mnuchin described Ansar-e Hezbollah to be an “organization supported by the Iranian regime that harasses and attacks the Iranian people.” The sanctions are also intended to target the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, a facility where political prisoners are abused and tortured for their transgressions.

Secretary Mnuchin went after companies who were involved in the shutdown of Telegram within Iran, the very same companies that went on to produce an Iranian alternative to the app — one that the state has oversight of. Mnuchin stated that,

Hanista Programming Group is responsible for creating and distributing alternative versions of the popular messaging and social media application Telegram that facilitate the Iranian regime’s monitoring and tracking of Iranian and international users.”

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Iranian government officials Abdolsamad Khoramabadi and Abolhassan Firouzabadi as well as the director of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Abdulali Ali-Asgari, were sanctioned for playing a part in state censorship too.

The sanctions are likely part of a larger plan to apply pressure on the regime now that President Donald Trump has made it clear that the U.S. will be pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Iran is saying the U.S. has no say in its ballistic missile program or national activities, the regime is still looking to European sympathizers for support to keep the program going. Ali Akbar Velayati, who is Senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, stated that the U.S. should withdraw from the Middle East immediately and stop meddling in other nations affairs.

Featured image: Steven Mnuchin being sworn in as the United States Secretary of the Treasury. By The White House [Public domain]