Australia imposes sanctions on Iran, Russia over human rights violations

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Australia’s foreign minister said on Saturday the government would place targeted sanctions on Russia and Iran in response to what it called “egregious” human rights violations.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement Australia was imposing Magnitsky-style sanctions on 13 individuals and two entities, including Iran’s Morality Police and Basij Resistance Force, and six Iranians involved in the crackdown on protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody in September.

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In an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald, Wong said the sanctions applied to Sadegh Hosseini, whom she described as a senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was being listed for his alleged role in “indiscriminate use of violence against protesters.”

“The Iranian regime’s flagrant and widespread disregard for the human rights of its own people has appalled Australians, and the perpetrators must be held accountable,” Wong wrote in the newspaper.

The Iranian foreign ministry rejected the move as interference in the Islamic Republic’s internal affairs and “incitement to violence,” state media reported.

“Australia’s new anti-Iran action comes after this country’s government has systematically violated the basic rights of Australian aborigines, prisoners and asylum seekers for years and has sheltered elements of anti-Iranian terrorist and separatist groups,” ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said.

Seven Russians involved in what Australia’s Wong said was the attempted assassination of former opposition leader Alexei Navalny would also have human rights sanctions imposed on them, according to the statement.

In addition to human rights sanctions, Wong said Australia was placing further targeted financial sanctions on three Iranians and one Iranian business for supplying drones to Russia for use against Ukraine.

The announcement comes after Australia’s center-left Labour government in October imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on 28 Russian-appointed separatists, ministers and senior officials after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of four regions of Ukraine.

Since the start of the conflict, Australia has sanctioned hundreds of Russian individuals and entities, including most of Russia’s banking sector and all organizations responsible for the country’s sovereign debt.

It also has supplied defense equipment and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, while outlawing exports of alumina and aluminum ores, including bauxite, to Russia.

Australia’s previous Liberal-National coalition government first imposed Magnitsky-style sanctions - measures that impose financial penalties and travel bans against individuals - in March against 14 Russians.

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