New economic sanctions have been issued by the Trump administration against senior Iranian officials and its prison system for human rights abuses, in particular those incurred by political prisoners being held in these facilities in 2014.
Tehran Prisons Organization and Sohrab Suleimani, senior official in the prison system, are the targets of latest sanctions. Sohrab Soleimani is responsible for overseeing Iran's notorious Evin Prison which, according to an article by Adam Kredo for the Free Beacon, “…is known for torturous interrogations, forced interrogations, and widespread mistreatment of inmates.”
Tehran, already the subject of a range of new sanctions under the Trump administration, and currently conducting a review of all matters related to the landmark nuclear agreement, will surely be upset with these new sanctions.
The Washington Free Beacon was told by senior official on the White House National Security Council, who was not authorized to speak on record, that the Soleimani family has a history both inside and outside Iran. He said, "It's no coincidence that Sohrab Suleimani is the brother of the notorious Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC's Quds Forces, who has been responsible for so much of the violent disruption Iran has been spreading through the region.” The official continued, "There has been a disturbing and significant increase in the number of detentions and executions of Iranian citizens under President Rouhani, and the infamous Evin Prison under Sohrab Suleimani's control has been a key facility in this program of domestic repression.”
The official also said, "In addition, we have been deeply concerned by the treatment of American citizens in this prison, and in others throughout Iran. Just today, senior officials in the Trump administration met with members of the Namazi family representing Siamak Namazi and Baquer Namazi who have been unjustly detained in Iran since October, 2015 and February, 2016, respectively.”
Director of the Treasury Department's Official of Foreign Assets Control, John E. Smith, stated, “Today's designations highlight our continued support for the Iranian people and demonstrate our commitment to hold the Government of Iran responsible for its continued repression of its own citizens. We will continue to identify, call out, and sanction those who are responsible for serious human rights abuses in Iran.”
The sanctions do not conflict with U.S. obligations under the nuclear agreement. In a background document provided to reporters, the State Department explained, "These designations are in response to what we see as pattern of human rights abuses by the Government of Iran and reflect the United States' deep concern regarding the human rights situation in Iran. We continue to see Government of Iran officials engage in repressive behavior against its own citizens, including through their mistreatment and abuse of prisoners. This is especially evident at Evin Prison, which is where numerous prisoners of conscience are held. We have documented these and many other human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of Iran in our annual State Department authored Human Rights, Religious Freedom, and trafficking in persons reports.”
As reported by the Free Beacon, Soleimani oversaw an incident at the Evin Prison in April 2014, when “…dozens of security guards and prison officials beat a number of political prisoners. The attack is believed to have lasted several hours and impacted more than 30 prisoners. Many of these prisoners were later denied medical treatment.”
A large number of Iranian political dissidents and other government opponents are housed at Evin Prison.