03/10/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – Yesterday, the U.S. State Department blacklisted two members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for their involvement in “gross violations of human rights, namely the torture and/or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of political prisoners and persons detained during protests in 2019 and 2020 in Iran,” according to a press statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken. As a result, the IRGC interrogators, Ali Hemmatian and Masoud Safdari, and their immediate family members will be barred from entry into the United States.
According to a report from Reuters, this appears to be the first punitive action taken against Iranian officials by the Biden administration over human rights violations. Thus far, much of the administration’s policy towards Iran has been dictated by its stated desire to reenter the multilateral nuclear deal, brokered during the Obama administration and from which the Trump administration announced that it would withdraw the U.S. in 2018.
Many see this designation by the Biden administration as an indication that U.S. intends to hold Tehran accountable for their many human rights violations, a policy that could anger Iranian officials and drive them away from the negotiating table for the deal. However, some critics argue that the Biden administration still does not go far enough in punishing the many atrocities committed by the Iranian regime.
International Christian Concern (ICC) continues to be concerned about the state of religious freedom in Iran, a country notorious for its incarceration and torture of political dissidents and prisoners of conscience. ICC previously submitted a formal request to the U.S. Treasury, arguing for three Iranian judges that repeatedly jailed Christians on trumped up charges to be sanctioned by the United States. Additionally, ICC identified Evin Prison, an Iranian prison commonly referred to as the “torture factory,” as another potential target of sanctions. The U.S. Treasury has since added the prison to its sanctions list.
Although the situation for Christians living in Iran remains quite dangerous, these new sanctions against Iranian interrogators provide some hope for human rights in the country.
For interviews, please contact Alison Garcia: [email protected].