US President Joe Biden expressed concern Monday over the response by Iranian security forces against peaceful protests, saying Washington will this week impose sanctions on perpetrators of violence against protestors.
“I remain gravely concerned about reports of the intensifying violent crackdown on peaceful protestors in Iran, including students and women, who are demanding their equal rights and basic human dignity,” said Biden in a statement.
He said the US will impose “further costs on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protestors” this week, adding that Washington will continue holding Iranian officials accountable and supporting the rights of Iranians to protest freely.
The president also said the US will make it easier for Iranians to access the Internet, including through facilitating greater access to secure, outside platforms and services.
“The United States is also holding accountable Iranian officials and entities, such as the Morality Police, that are responsible for employing violence to suppress civil society,” he added.
The president accused Iran of denying fundamental freedoms to its people and suppressing “the aspirations of successive generations through intimidation, coercion, and violence.”
He said the US stands with Iranian women and all the citizens of Iran, who he said are inspiring the world with their bravery.
The death toll in the weeks-long protests in Iran over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody on Sept. 16 has surged to 92, according to a Norway-based human rights group Sunday.
The Biden administration also announced sanctions against Iran’s morality police, who detained Amini before she fainted and was later pronounced dead at a hospital, for alleged violence against women.
Iran, in reaction, decried what it called “foreign interventionist positions” regarding the incident and advised these countries to “avoid opportunism and selective use of human rights.”
On Sunday, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said it had arrested nine foreign nationals for involvement in “riots” along with 256 members of outlawed opposition groups.
Amini’s family has accused the police of beating her, causing her to suffer a stroke. An Iranian government investigation into the incident is yet to conclude.__The Nation