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Press Release: Executive Order Targets Human Rights Abuses

29 Sep 2010 23:2416 Comments

Fact Sheet: New Executive Order Targeting Iranian Officials Responsible for or Complicit in Serious Human Rights Abuses

Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that imposes sanctions on Iranian officials determined to be responsible for or complicit in serious human rights abuses involving Iran. In signing today's Order, the President identified eight individuals for sanctions who share responsibility for the sustained and severe violation of human rights in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election by listing them in the Annex to the Order.

The Iranian individuals identified today are: Mohammad Ali Jafari, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC); Sadeq Mahsouli, current Minister of Welfare and Security and former Minister of the Interior; Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, current Prosecutor General of Iran and former Minister of Intelligence; Saeed Mortazavi, former Prosecutor-General of Tehran; Heydar Moslehi, Minister of Intelligence; Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, current Minister of the Interior and former Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces for Law Enforcement; Ahmad-Reza Radan, Deputy Chief of Iran's National Police; and Hossein Taeb, current Deputy IRGC Commander for Intelligence and former Commander of the IRGC's Basij Forces.

This Order provides the United States with new tools to target human rights abuses engaged in by officials of the Government of Iran. As a result of this action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the individuals listed in the Annex have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. The individuals listed in the Annex to the Executive Order are also subject to visa sanctions.

President Obama identified the following individuals for sanctions by listing them in the Annex to the Order:

· Mohammad Ali Jafari is the Commander of the IRGC. As commander of the IRGC, Jafari controlled the Basij Forces during the June 2009 election. Forces under his command participated in beatings, murder, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of peaceful protestors.

· Sadeq Mahsouli is currently the Minister of Welfare and Social Security. He was Minister of the Interior at the time of the June 2009 election. As Minister of the Interior, Mahsouli had authority over all police forces and Interior Ministry security agents. His forces were responsible for attacks on the dormitories of Tehran University on June 15 2009, during which students were severely beaten and detained. Detained students were tortured and ill-treated in the basement of the Interior Ministry building; other protestors were severely abused at the Kahrizak Detention Center, which was operated by police under Mahsouli's control.

· Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei is currently the Prosecutor General of Iran. As the Minister of Intelligence at the time of the June 2009 election, Mohseni-Ejei has confirmed that he authorized confrontations with protesters and their arrests during his tenure as Minister of Intelligence. As a result, protesters were detained without formal charges brought against them and during this detention detainees were subjected to beatings, solitary confinement, and a denial of due process rights at the hands of intelligence officers under the direction of Mohseni-Ejei. In addition, political figures were coerced into making false confessions under unbearable interrogations, which included torture, abuse, blackmail, and the threatening of family members.

· Saeed Mortazavi is the former Tehran Prosecutor General. As Prosecutor-General, he issued a blanket order used for the detention of hundreds of activists, journalists, and students, and was responsible for sending detainees to the Kahrizak Detention Center, where they were tortured and abused, resulting in several deaths. He was suspended from office in August 2010 after an investigation by the Iranian judiciary of his role in the death of three men detained on his orders following the election.

· Heydar Moslehi has been the Minister of Intelligence since August 2009. Under his leadership, the Ministry of Intelligence has continued the practices of widespread arbitrary detention and persecution of protestors and dissidents. The Ministry of Intelligence continues to run Ward 209 of Evin Prison, where many activists are being held for their peaceful activities in opposition to the ruling government; interrogators from the Ministry of Intelligence have subjected prisoners in Ward 209 to beatings, mental abuse, and sexual abuse. In recent months, prisoners in Ward 209 have reported forced confessions and interference by the Ministry of Intelligence in the judicial process; one detainee from the ward was executed after a forced confession and another was executed when torture failed to yield a confession. As the Minister of Intelligence, Moslehi bears responsibility for the ongoing abuses.

· Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was appointed the Deputy Commander of Armed Forces in charge of Police Forces in order to "ensure order and security" in November 2009. He was in charge of the government response to protests on Ashura, one of the holiest days in Shia Islam, which in 2009 coincided with December 27, 2009. State media reported 37 dead and hundreds arrested. He is currently the Minister of Interior and, as such, has authority over all police forces, Interior Ministry security agents, and plainsclothes agents.

· Ahmad-Reza Radan has been the Deputy Chief of Iran's National Police since 2008. As Deputy Chief of National Police, Radan was responsible for beatings, murder, and arbitrary arrests and detentions against protestors that were committed by the police forces. In addition, several detainees taken to Kahrizak Detention Center, the detention center where at least three protestors lost their lives after being subject to abuses, have alleged that Radan was present in Kahrizak and personally participated in the beatings and ill-treatment of detainees.

· Hossein Taeb is currently the Deputy IRGC Commander for Intelligence. As Commander of the paramilitary Basij Forces at the time of the June 2009 election, forces under Taeb's command participated in beatings, extrajudicial killings, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of peaceful protestors and other political activists.

Identifying information

Individual: Mohammad Ali Jafari

AKA: Ali Jafari

AKA: Mohammad Ali Ja'fari

AKA: Aziz

AKA: Aziz Ja'fari

POB: Yazd, Iran

DOB: 1 September 1957

Individual: Sadeq Mahsouli

AKA: Sadeq Mahsuli

POB: Orumieh, Iran

DOB: 1959

Individual: Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei

AKA: Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei

POB: Ejiyeh, Iran

DOB: c. 1956

Individual: Saeed Mortazavi

AKA: Sa'id Mortazavi

POB: Meibod, Yazd, Iran

DOB: 1967

Individual: Heydar Moslehi

AKA: Heidar Moslehi

POB: Isfahan, Iran

DOB: 1956

Individual: Mostafa Mohammad Najjar

POB: Tehran, Iran

DOB: 1956

Individual: Ahmad-Reza Radan

POB: Isfahan, Iran

DOB: 1963

Alt DOB: 1964

Individual: Hossein Taeb

AKA: Hosein Taeb

AKA: Hussayn Taeb

AKA: Hassan Taeb

POB: Tehran, Iran

DOB: 1963

* * *

Press Releases: Briefing With Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner
Wed, 29 Sep 2010 13:58:15 -0500

BRIEFING WITH SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY TIMOTHY GEITHNER

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Washington, DC

September 29, 2010

MR. TONER: Good afternoon. Welcome to the State Department. It's our great pleasure to have the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury here. They'll make brief remarks and then take a few questions.

Go ahead, Madam Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mark, and I'm delighted to have Secretary Geithner here at the State Department for this important announcement.

Yesterday, President Obama signed an Executive Order targeting eight Iranian officials responsible for serious and sustained human rights abuses since the disputed election of June 2009. On these officials' watch or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed, and killed. Yet the Iranian Government has ignored repeated calls from the international community to end these abuses, to hold to account those responsible and respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of its citizens. And Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The steady deterioration in human rights conditions in Iran has obliged the United States to speak out time and time again. And today, we are announcing specific actions that correspond to our deep concern. The mounting evidence of repression against anyone who questions Iranian Government decisions or advocates for transparency or even attempts to defend political prisoners is very troubling.

This week, Iranian authorities banned two reformist political parties and shut down two more newspapers. This follows a series of convictions and harsh sentences for a number of political prisoners. Two internationally recognized human rights defenders were sentenced to six-year prison terms. A student leader was given an eight and a half year sentence for insulting the president. Human rights lawyers, bloggers, journalists and activists for women's rights have all been jailed and many have fallen ill due to mistreatment in prison.

Now, these actions obviously contradict recent claims made at the United Nations that Iranians enjoy the right of free expression and that no one is imprisoned for political reasons. In signing this Executive Order, the President sends the message that the United States stands up for the universal rights of all people. And as President Obama said at the United Nations last week, we will call out those who suppress ideas. We will serve as a voice for the voiceless. And we will hold abuse of governments and individuals accountable for their actions.

This is the first time the United States has imposed sanctions against Iran based on human rights abuses. We would like to be able to tell you that it might be the last, but we fear not. We now have at our disposal a new tool that allows us to designate individual Iranians, officials responsible for or complicit in serious human rights violations, and do so in a way that does not in any way impact on the well-being of the Iranian people themselves.

The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 permits us to impose financial sanctions and deny U.S. visas to specific Iranian officials where there is credible evidence against them. In doing so today, we declare our solidarity with their victims and with all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights and their dignity and their freedom. By doing so, we convey our strong support for the rule of law, and we speak out for those unable to speak for themselves because they are jailed or frightened or fear retribution against themselves or their families.

Today, again, we call for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Iran and around the world, and we call on the Iranian Government to take actions to end these abuses and respect the universal rights and freedoms of its own citizens.

Secretary Geithner.

SECRETARY GEITHNER: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. I want to thank you and I want to compliment my colleague, Stuart Levey, and his counterparts at the State Department for working so closely together in designing these significant financial actions.

Just a few words on how these measures work and why they are effective: Rather than relying on the traditional approach of broad-based sanctions on the entire country of Iran, we have tried to focus on specific actors, institutions, and actions that threaten our interests as a whole. And we have found that when we single out individuals and expose their conduct, banks, businesses, and governments around the world respond by cutting off their economic and financial dealings with these individuals, these institutions, these businesses.

And this strategy can be very effective. We've seen a growing number of companies and financial institutions in countries around the world cut or substantially curtail their financial ties with Iran. They have decided - they have looked at, they have assessed the risks of continuing to do business with these entities, and they have decided that those risks are too great. And we already have indications that Iran's leadership is concerned about the implications about the impact of this trend.

We have made important progress, and I want to emphasize, as the Secretary of State did, that our goal is not to hurt the Iranian people; our goal is to enact strong, effective measures that will pressure the leadership of Iran to abandon their dangerous course. And we will continue to find ways to target illicit conduct in all areas that threaten our interests.

Thank you.

MR. TONER: Go ahead, Matt.

QUESTION: Yeah. To both secretaries, just on the efficiency and the effectiveness of these sanctions, I mean, given the fact that thus far the rather broad sanctions that have been imposed on the IRGC and others trying to bring them back to the nuclear table haven't seemed to work, it doesn't - I'd just like to know what indications you have that those are working and why you think these, which are targeted at specific human rights abusers or alleged specific human rights abusers, will make any difference in their behavior.

And then Secretary Clinton, just separately, have you had any word back from the Omani delegation that is in Iran now talking about the possible release of the two remaining hikers? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Matt, first we do believe that the sanctions in place that were achieved through effort in the United Nations and then the additional sanctions imposed by our Congress and Administration along with the EU, Japan, and others, are having an impact. Stuart Levey gave a speech in New York - last week, Stuart?

MR. LEVEY: Yes.

SECRETARY CLINTON: -- outlining the evidence that we have that these sanctions are beginning to be viewed as quite serious within the Iranian political, clerical, and business communities. So from our perspective, the diplomatic effort we engaged in over the course of the last year and a half has made very clear the unity of the international community with respect to Iran's nuclear program, and we are engaged in discussions with our colleagues in the P-5+1 about an eventual return to the diplomatic table by the Iranians.

This is a different approach, as both Tim and I have said. We are using this new tool that the Congress has just given us to basically publicize and connect to the human rights abuses that are ongoing in Iran those officials about whom we have credible evidence who are responsible for either ordering or implementing these abuses, because we've always said that we not only cared about the nuclear program in Iran, we cared about the people of Iran and we cared about their conditions in their country, and we became quite concerned following the disputed elections.

So this is a - both a practical announcement in that there are financial and travel restrictions that will be imposed, but it is a statement of our values. And it is not only about the people of Iran who are suffering, but it expresses solidarity with victims of these kinds of actions around the world.

SECRETARY GEITHNER: When we found that when you focus on specific institutions, individuals, entities, and you focus on specific activities they are undertaking to demonstrate, it's easier both to get broad-based support for financial - economic consequence, and that's the basic rationale for the strategy.

Now, how do we know it's working? We can see and we can see every week how hard it is for the Iranian Government to evade, get around, these things. It's become much harder for them, the cost of doing it much more difficult, and that is having a big, visible impact in awareness among the leadership of Iran that the actions they're taking have acute, severe, significant, economic and financial consequences.

QUESTION: On the Omanis?

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I have nothing to add to (inaudible).

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I understand what you say about the fact that this new legislation gives you additional tools, but what took so long for the U.S. to name and shame these officials that were involved in the crackdown? You've been talking about how concerned you were about the human rights situation since the crackdown when it was at its most bloodiest right after the election. The opposition has been virtually kind of completely repressed and oppressed since then, and perhaps some kind of naming and shaming earlier might have given them a little bit more hope and encouragement. So was it more about making the legal case, about having the tools? Why did it take so long?

And also, do you think that - this week, you've been talking with the Iranians about getting back to the table. Do you think this move is going to cause the Iranians to pull back?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, embedded in your question is the kind of evaluation that we have been engaged in consistently since the Administration came into office. We have a number of important goals in dealing with Iran. Obviously, the nuclear program and its potential to create a nuclear weaponized Iran is something that has grave consequences for the region and the balance among the countries there as well as the rest of the world. So we've been very clear, consistent, and achieved the goals that we set out in terms of the international sanctions, at the same time, offering both a diplomatic engagement as well as the pressure track.

We were very clear on criticizing the Iranian Government for their crackdown on peaceful demonstrations, on opposition, on the manipulation of the election. But we also were very mindful of the messages we were getting from Iranians both inside Iran and outside Iran that we had to be careful that this indigenous opposition that we certainly had nothing to do with that was attempting to stand up for the rights of the Iranian people was not somehow seen as a U.S. enterprise, because it wasn't.

And so walking that line and trying to be both encouraging, forthright, and strong in our support of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Iranian people, at the same time not giving any reason for the Iranians to claim that this reaction from within was somehow either motivated or directed or connected with us, required a balancing act.

So that is what we've been doing, but we've been very consistent and persistent in pointing out the human rights abuses. And we did, with the accumulation of credible evidence, find ourselves, once the tools were in place, to be able to use them, which is what we're announcing today.

MR. TONER: Last question, Bloomberg.

QUESTION: Thank you. Can you give us a sense with respect to these new sanctions of the size or scope of the holdings these eight individuals have in the States?

SECRETARY GEITHNER: No, but I can tell you again, as I said before, you need to measure the impact by what it does to the incentives, businesses, and institutions around the world have for continuing to engage in economic commercial actions with Iran. The best way to measure the impact, as you've seen across a range of measures, is the direct economic financial costs to the regime of continuing on this path. And again, we have been effective, remarkably effective, in substantially raising the price of these actions, made it much harder for the government to get around them, much more costly to get around them, and we can see the impact in how they're behaving.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would only add, and it kind of takes the last question as well as this one and combines them, we in the United States are clearly not alone in calling attention to ongoing human rights abuses and violations inside Iran. And in doing what we've done today, we are moving not just from criticizing the government, but beginning to call out individuals who are decision makers within that government and who we believe we can trace decisions to abuses in a manner that makes our case very strong.

So this is an ongoing effort with our partners around the world to affect the behavior of the Iranian Government and to send a very clear message that, as those of you who have traveled with me have heard me say before, that the original intentions of the Islamic Republic of Iran to have a franchise that was respected, to have a hybrid government of the elected and the clerical leadership appears to us to be undergoing severe distortion. And it really is ultimately up to the people of Iran themselves to speak out.

But of course, they are facing tremendous repression in the face of their advocacy for a much clearer sense of their citizenship role in Iran. And we're not naïve. We know that thus far, this government has been impervious to our pleas and the pleas of many others. But we think it's essential that we continue to make the case and today, we are adding in very specific terms with specific names to that case. Thank you.

MR. TONER: Thank you very much.

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16 Comments

OK. But where are the executive orders for Israel's human rights violators? And Egypt's? And ...

Why does the U.S. actually PAY these warmongers too?

These atrocious double standards are what Ahmadinejad loves to point to and abuse. And it actually attracts lots of buyers too because they ARE double standards and he knows how to play that game very well with his own base.

Houshang / September 30, 2010 12:15 AM

Houshang,

Don't you think we ought to worry about our own country first? What does Israel and Egypt got to do with Iran? Who cares about what Ahmadinejad thinks? Didn't you see it with your own eyes? He spoke to empty chairs at U.N.
It is what WE think that matters and we MUST think Iran and Iranian people. That is our priority, period.

Warmongers? What war? With whom? Why should We care about Palestine when our own people are being murdered, tortured, raped and imprisoned by this group of Islamist Barbarians?

Niloofar / September 30, 2010 2:09 AM

Houshang: if you care more about non-iranians (or even consider them equal to poor iranians who have been robbed and oppressed for 31 years far more than any other nation), maybe it is time to realize that your name is the only thing iranian in you. No "true iranian" places the welfare of Iranians below (or even equal to) some unknown faces in far away lands.

Although this is a small step, but nonetheless, many thanks to Mr. President and Madam Secretary for this decision.

Let's look forward to the day that Symbols of "Lice and Centipedes" are wiped out from iranian flag, and non-iranian aggressors and occupiers of iran expelled.

Raician / September 30, 2010 3:25 AM

HOUSHANG HAS A POINT NONETHELESS GUYS! THINK OVER IT AGAIN. AND THANKS TO OBAMA AND CLINTON FOR CARING ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN IRAN,ANYTHING DONE ABOUT THE DIRE HUMAN RIGHTS STATE IN IRAN IS ENCOURAGED BUT I SAY AGAIN THAT HOUSHANG HAS A POINT WHICH IS NOT BULL.

AMIN / September 30, 2010 4:03 AM

when ahmadinejad was asked in lary king interview and charlie rose,about human rights violation in iran,his demeanor changed drastically and became very uncomfortable,that is a very sensative subject for an islamic state,which they claim to be.this is a very good approach and it will be very effective.iranians do not want to look bad in the neighbouring states,that they actually torture their citizens,including women.

fay / September 30, 2010 7:00 AM

Houshang's point is valid.

Pirouz / September 30, 2010 11:08 AM

Why the don't put Khamenei in the list? That would send a nice peppery message to Jamaran!

PersianTraveler / September 30, 2010 12:57 PM

This is a public relations ploy. No Iranian citizen is allowed this kind of trade with U.S. citizens. By U.S. law.

Why single out specific Iranian citizens? There are many more Iranians involved in human rights vioations than listed. And for that matter, there are many other individuals involved in human rights violations from many nations. Is the U.S. administration going to issue orders (which are not law) against these people also.

muhammad billy bob / September 30, 2010 8:58 PM

Great...finally...
This is a great start. I hope they expand the list to other IR officials and I hope other nations follow suit very very soon: freeze their assests and go after their businesses.


Houshang,
You have to ask yourself what exactly is the downside of addressing human rights issues! Double standard or not, this is great for people of Iran and it needs to be expanded.

Ahvaz / September 30, 2010 9:42 PM


Public relation ploy it is!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with drawing attention to human rights abuse.

However, the absurdly transparent hypocrisy of this act in the face of blatant human rights violations by the US and its allies (as documented by NGOs) makes a mockery of this very important issue.

In essence, by appearing to use human rights as a foreign policy tool for pressure (in such an overtly transparent fashion), this administration is giving an aura of illegitimacy to human rights concerns voiced by governmental bodies.

This may be a very shrewd move nonetheless because the US may be hoping for reciprocal action by Iran!!

Given the number of US officialdom (and officialdom of the allies of US) under indictment (or potential indictment) for various criminal acts (including war crimes) in different countries, the US could use Iran's individual sanctions (if Iran reacts as such) as a public relations tool in order to create a negative image in public's mind. When a US individual is indicted or sanctioned anywhere in the world, the US could say: "well, look, countries like Iran sanction people too - so, it can't be legitimate!"

jay / September 30, 2010 11:01 PM

Jay,

I had to read your last paragraph twice just to realise how nutty it is!

Cy / September 30, 2010 11:37 PM

Cy,

I am glad you find it nutty!

We have Rumsfeld indicted For torture while traveling in France in 2007, twenty-two CIA agents convicted by a Milan court in 2007, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak urging the indictment of former US President George W. Bush, and I can go on and on with high officials from various countries - and now the list includes official from Iran blacklisted.

When people who are potentially war criminals (Iranian officials included) are still walking around, do you really expect that any of these abusers is going to see the inside of a close to "real" Nuremberg-style courtroom. Read the seven principles of Nuremberg and you should immediately know why.


For some people who truly care about human rights without personal agendas, the absurdity of this all makes it very nutty!

jay / October 1, 2010 8:18 AM

Human Rights is fast becoming a dirty word in many countries and unmentionable in others. Identifying individuals responsible for human rights abuses in Iran, or Sudan or the US for that matter is difficult to criticize unless the issue is thought to be not worth addressing at all which some people do believe. You have to be on one side of the debate or the other. Historically democracy and human rights have been issues emphasized (I wont say championed) in the West. Human Rights Watch accurately documents the worst culprits worldwide so its not as if it is difficult to ascertain where the problems are if you take the time to read its annual report.The problems are much, much greater in some places than others. The toll in Sudan is many times greater than in Israel ,for example.The situation in Iran is deteriorating rapidly whereas in Turkey it is improving somewhat. In Latin America, it is improving. In Zimbabwe, Burma it is worsening. Whether it is Europeans or Egyptians,or Americans or Australians, whenever torturers and the repressive forces are highlighted, I find it welcome.

pirooz / October 1, 2010 8:19 AM

Jay,

I meant the MOTIVE you assigned to this move by the US rather than the other issues you referred to.

Cy / October 2, 2010 1:55 AM


Cy,

It was intentional. I meant it to be absurdly ridiculous to make the point that the important issue of human rights is about to turn into a child's finger pointing play!

Ms. Shirazi does a more refined job. See :

"http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/10/02/international-flaw-with-new-iran-sanctions-potus-calls-tehrans-kettle-black/"

jay / October 2, 2010 7:06 AM

EVERYONE I've spoken to in the opposition - including people in Iran who participated and were beaten up in the protests(some who were middle aged mothers) and others who were arrested - have been overwhelmingly in favour of this move. Iranians need to consider how utterly helpless and alone some of their compatriots who are on the frontlines of the struggle in Iran feel. I don't know of any other country that treats some of the best and brightest of its people with such brutality and violence on such a wide scale. I think this is a welcome development and I hope to see these kinds of moves expanded and adopted by EU countries as well. I also think organisations like the UN need to begin applying pressure on Iran on issues such as forced hijab which are unique to the Islamic Republic and have no place in the 21st century.

Iran comes first as far as I am concerned. When the whole world has abandoned Iran for decades, I am not about to stand in the way of such welcome developments by dumping every human rights violation across the globe on the table and muddying the waters. My heart is with those grieving mothers who lost their precious sons and daughters to this brutal regime.

Cy / October 3, 2010 1:07 AM