WASHINGTON The United States on Wednesday named eight senior Iranian officials -- including the commander of the Revolutionary Guards and several cabinet ministers -- as participants in human rights abuses including killings after disputed presidential elections in June 2009.
"On these officials' watch, or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed and killed," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a news conference. "Yet the Iranian government has ignored repeated calls from the international community to end these abuses."
The United States has imposed sanctions against Iran over a number of issues, including its nuclear program, but this was the first time that actions were based against it on alleged human rights abuses.
"We would like to be able to tell you that it might be the last, but we fear not," Clinton said at a joint event with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who predicted it would have significant repercussions for those named as offenders.
An executive order signed by President Barack Obama specifies that any assets the eight Iranians have in the United States are subject to seizure and bans any transactions with them by American citizens.
"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," Geithner said.
A fact sheet that Treasury distributed said the eight "share responsibility for the sustained and severe violation of human rights in Iran" since the 2009 election.
The White House said human rights "are a matter of moral and pragmatic necessity for the United States" and the United States "will always stand with those in Iran who aspire to have their voices heard."
The fact sheet listed the eight Iranians as Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp; Sadeq Mahsouli, Minister of Welfare and Security and former Minister of the Interior; Qolam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Prosecutor General and former Minister of Intelligence; Saeed Mortazavi, former Prosecutor-General of Tehran; Heydar Moslehi, Minister of Intelligence; Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, 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, deputy IRGC Commander for Intelligence and former Commander of IRGC's Basij Forces.
In Jafari's case, the fact sheet said, forces he commanded "participated in beatings, murder and arbitrary arrests and detentions of peaceful protesters."
Last year's street protests, the worst unrest since the Islamic republic was founded in 1979, were put down violently by the Revolutionary Guards. Mass detentions and trials followed. Two people were hanged and scores of detainees remain in jail.
Clinton said the Obama administration was moving beyond simply criticizing the crackdown and was "beginning to call out individuals who are decision makers within that government."
(Reporting by Glenn Somerville and Andrew Quinn)