Iran must face consequences for protest crackdown, White House says

Hundreds of protesters have been killed since Mahsa Amini's death on September 16

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Iran must face consequences for its crackdown against anti-government demonstrations, the White House said on Monday, after Tehran announced it had sentenced a protester to death.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the Biden administration was "deeply concerned" about the sentence, and reports of sham trials and mass arrests of people protesting against a government that "systematically denies basic dignity and freedom to its people."

The EU has issued a second round of sanctions in less than a month against Iran over its brutal response to the nationwide protests.

“The human rights abuses inflicted by its government must not go without consequence,” Mr Sullivan said.

The protester, who has not been identified, was sentenced to death for “setting fire to a government building, disturbing public order, assembly and conspiracy to commit a crime against national security”, as well as being “an enemy of God” and of “corruption on earth”, the judiciary website Mizan Online said.

It is the first known case of a protester being condemned since demonstrations began on September 16, after the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, a student who was killed while in the custody of the country’s "morality police.

Amini was accused of not wearing her headscarf properly.

Her death sparked nationwide protests and prompted women across Iran to rally in solidarity.

“Jin, jiyan, azadi”, which translates to “woman, life, freedom", has become a common refrain on the streets of Iranian cities.

Iran’s security apparatus has clamped down hard on protesters, prompting outrage from western nations.

More than 330 protesters have been killed in nearly two months, according to the HRANA news agency.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House last week. Bloomberg

“The United States, standing with our partners and allies around the world, will continue to pursue accountability for those responsible for these abuses through sanctions and other means," Mr Sullivan said.

The Biden administration has been vocal in its support of demonstrators.

"Don't worry, we're gonna free Iran," US President Joe Biden said during a campaign stop in California this month. "They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon.”

On Monday, the EU announced heavy sanctions against 29 people and three entities within Iran.

Among them is Mohammad Rostami, the head of the country’s morality police, and Col Haj Ahmed Mirzaei, the chief of its Tehran branch.

This is not the first time nationwide protests have rocked Iran.

In 2009, thousands of young people took to the streets to protest against then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Green Movement, as it was called, lasted several months.

In 2019, protesters rose up against the government over the increasing fuel costs.

Updated: November 14, 2022, 8:16 PM