The US sanctioned Iran's Morality Police and senior officials Thursday as mass unrest envelops the Islamic Republic in the wake of the death of a woman while in police custody.
The sanctions are being issued in response to the "abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protestors," the Treasury Department said in a statement.
In addition to the Morality Police, the US is also blacklisting seven senior officials, including its head, Mohammad Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi, and Haj Ahmad Mirzaeim, the man who leads the police's Tehran division, said the agency.
Salar Abnoush, the deputy commander of Iran's Basij paramilitary militia; Law Enforcement Forces Deputy Commander Qasem Rezaei; provincial Commander Manouchehr Amanollahi and Kiyumars Heidari, the commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, were also sanctioned.
Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib is being re-sanctioned after being designated earlier in September.
“Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
“We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly," she added.
Amini, 22, was detained for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. Authorities have sought to pin blame on her death on a heart attack but her family and many in Iran have rejected that claim, saying she was the victim of police brutality.
Amini's father, Amjad Amini, told BBC Persian on Wednesday that authorities refused to allow him to see his daughter's body following her death.
"They're lying. They're telling lies. Everything is a lie ... no matter how much I begged, they wouldn't let me see my daughter," he said. "I have no idea what they did to her."
Amini said his daughter's body was fully wrapped for burial except for her feet and face when he was finally allowed to see her. Bruising was visible on her feet, he said.
At least six Iranians have been killed in protests triggered by her death.