President Joe Biden said that his government will impose further punitive damages against Iran and those responsible for the ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protesters. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The United States this week will impose additional punitive measures targeting those involved in Iran's violent crackdown on anti-regime protests that have erupted across the Middle Eastern country following the death of Mahsa Amini, President Joe Biden said Monday.
Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdistan Iranian, died Sept. 16 after being detained days earlier by the country's so-called morality police known as Guidance Patrol on allegations of violating the regime's strict hijab laws. Witnesses claim she was beaten by the arresting officers.
In response to her death, Iranians throughout the country have taken to the streets in anti-regime protests that have been met with bloody resistance. According to the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights organization, more than 133 protesters have been killed including more than 40 on Friday alone in the southeastern city of Zahedan.
In a statement Monday, Biden said he was "gravely concerned" about the reports of the "intensifying violent crackdown down on peaceful protesters."
"For decades, Iran's regime has denied fundamental freedoms to its people and suppressed the aspirations of successive generations through intimidation, coercion and violence," the president said. "The United States stands with Iranian women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world through their bravery."
Since the protests erupted, the United States has sanctioned the Guidance Patrol and seven senior leaders of Iranian security organizations that have been accused of employing violence to suppress peaceful protesters, Iranian civil society, political dissidents and women's rights activists.
It has also relaxed sanctions concerning Internet services in Iran to improve the free flow of information in the country as its government has sought to cut its 80 million people from information online amid the protests.
Biden did not specify the punitive measures to be imposed this week nor exactly who they will target other than they will hit "perpetrators of violence against peaceful protesters."
The announcement came as Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the United States and Israel for the protests and after Iranian security forces over the weekend crack down on protesters at Tehran's Sharif University of Technology.
During a press conference aboard Air Force One en route to Puerto Rico, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the protesters, saying "they are rightly enraged by the death of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian government's treatment of women and girls and the ongoing violent crackdown on peaceful protests."
"This weekend's crackdowns are precisely the sort of behavior that drives Iran's talented young people to leave a country by the thousands to seek the dignity and opportunity elsewhere," she said.
Hundreds gather for the Iranian American Women Foundation's candlelight vigil for Mahsa Amini at West Hollywood Park in West Hollywood, Calif., on September 29, 2022. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo