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Published On: Sat, Jan 13th, 2018

Nuclear deal survives but US imposes new sanctions on Iran, among others over human rights

nsnbc : The United States has imposed a new set of sanctions on Iran targeting Iran’s top judge, thirteen other individuals and large entities accused of human rights abuses and censorship, the day that US President Donald Trump extended waivers of nuclear sanctions against Tehran.

The 2005 public hanging of two teenagers for gay sex sparked international outrage but other, not so highly publicized cases are commonplace.

The 2005 public hanging of two teenagers, one of them for gay sex sparked international outrage but other, not so highly publicized cases are commonplace.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that “The United States will not stand by while the Iranian regime continues to engage in human rights abuses and injustice”. “We are targeting the Iranian regime, including the head of Iran’s judiciary, for its appalling mistreatment of its citizens, including those imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and for censoring its own people as they stand up in protest against their government,” he explained.

In sanctioning the head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, the US Treasury stated he has overseen executions of juveniles and the use of torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Also subject to new sanctions is Gholamreza Ziaei for acting on behalf of Rajaee Shahr Prison where human rights are reported to have occurred, the Treasury stated.

Iranian authorities regularly impose laws that are irreconcilable with western values or internationally recognized human rights. Homosexuality, for example,  is a crime punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment, or by execution. In 2005 the public hanging of two minors, one of them, Hassan Afshar, for “having gay sex” sparked international outrage but other cases that do not prompt international headlines are common. Between 2005 and 2015 there have been at least 73 executions of minors in Iran.

Iran’s blasphemy law derives from Sharia law. Blasphemers are generally charged with “spreading corruption on earth, which can also be applied to criminal or political crimes as Iran is a de-facto theocracy. The law against blasphemy complements laws against criticizing the Islamic regime, insulting Islam, and publishing materials that deviate from Islamic standards. The Iranian regime also uses these laws to oppress Sunni, Bahai, Sufi and Christians and even journalists, even though Tehran does what it can to deny this oppression.

Local and international rights organizations consistently report that persecuted individuals are subject to surveillance by the “religious police,” harassment, prolonged detention, mistreatment, torture, and execution. The courts have acquitted vigilantes who killed in the belief that their victims were engaged in un-Islamic activities.

The Treasury also imposed sanctions on several Iranian cyber and communication agencies on charges of censorship, limiting and penalizing freedom of expression, and limiting the media, including access to Western media. Moreover, the US targeted China-Iran ties, slapping sanctions on a Chinese national, Shi Yuhua, and a China-Iran procurement network for providing goods or services related to Iran’s missile program.

Iranian media outlet IRNA has denounced the new sanctions as “unfair and hostile.” The Treasury’s announcement came as President Donald Trump extended nuclear sanction waivers, meaning the 2015 nuclear deal remains in place for now.

“Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump stated. However, he issued an ultimatum to European partners of the deal: “either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”

European leaders have repeatedly stated their commitment to the agreement. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif hit back on Twitter, accusing Trump of “maliciously” trying to undermine the agreement. The deal “is not renegotiable,” he stated, “rather than repeating tired rhetoric, US must bring itself into full compliance – just like Iran.”

Trump was a vocal supporter of recent anti-government protests in Iran, warning Tehran that he was watching for human rights abuses. Iranian officials acknowledged protesters had legitimate economic concerns, but alleged foreign agents were behind the unrest. As part of a crackdown on the demonstrations, Iranian authorities cut or limited access to internet and social media apps. Reports indicate as many as five protesters have died in prison.

CH/L – nsnbc 13.01.2018

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