The United States is sanctioning six senior employees of an Iranian state media corporation for their alleged complicity in Tehran’s “mass repression and censorship” of its people amid a crackdown on protesters.
The US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said on Wednesday it was sanctioning six senior employees of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), which Washington previously designated for sanctions in 2013. .
Treasury said IRIB has broadcast hundreds of coerced confessions from Iranian, dual national and international detainees in Iran. IRIB and its subsidiaries, the Treasury said, “are not acting as objective news outlets, but as a critical tool in the Iranian government’s campaign of censorship and massive repression against its own people.”
Treasury said the IRIB produced and broadcast televised interviews of people who were coerced into confessing that their relatives were not killed by Iranian authorities during nationwide protests, but died “due to unrelated accidental causes.”
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“The Iranian government’s systemic reliance on coerced confessions illustrates the government’s refusal to tell the truth to its citizens and to the international community,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said in a statement. “The United States remains committed to supporting the Iranian people as they continue their peaceful protests. We will continue to hold Iranian officials and government institutions accountable for their human rights violations and their censorship of the Iranian people.”
Mass protests have rocked Iran since September over the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code.
Thousands of people have been arrested for participating in peaceful demonstrations and at least one person has been sentenced to death. The UN Human Rights Office has called on Iran’s government to release the detainees, criticizing its “increasing harshness” as Western countries seek to increase scrutiny of Tehran’s crackdown on protesters.
Separately, Germany and Iceland are leading a largely Western-led push for the UN-backed Human Rights Council to create a special “fact-finding mission,” a team of independent rights experts, to investigate alleged rights violations in Iran related to the protests.
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The council, which is made up of 47 member states and whose composition changes every year, will hold a special session on November 24 to discuss the situation in Iran and finally vote on the proposal that includes the call for the investigation. mission.
Associated Press contributed to this report.