The U.S. announced it would impose sanctions on senior Iran security officials and Iran's morality police following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
She had been detained for allegedly failing to properly wear the hijab (headscarf).
"In response to this and other human rights violations in Iran – including the violent suppression of peaceful protests – the United States is imposing sanctions on Iran’s Morality Police and senior security officials who have engaged in serious human rights abuses, pursuant to Executive Order 13553," Blinken said in a statement. "The Morality Police, an element of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), arrests women for wearing ‘inappropriate’ hijab and enforces other restrictions on freedom of expression. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is further designating Haj Ahmad Mirzaei and Mohammad Rostami Cheshmeh Gachi, both of whom are senior officials in the Morality Police."
The Treasury Department's OFAC also targeted seven senior leaders of Iran's security organizations.
"These individuals have been all involved in the suppression and killing of nonviolent protesters," Blinken noted.
"The Iranian government needs to end its systemic persecution of women and allow peaceful protest. The United States will continue to voice our support for human rights in Iran and hold those who violate them to account," he said.
"Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people," Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said in a release. "We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly. Today’s action to sanction Iran’s Morality Police and senior Iranian security officials responsible for this oppression demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s clear commitment to stand up for human rights and the rights of women, in Iran and globally."
At least nine protesters have been killed in clashes with Iranian security forces since violence erupted over the weekend after Amini's death.
Amini was arrested on Sept. 14 by the LEF's Morality Police, who said she did not properly cover her hair with the Islamic headscarf, which is mandatory for Iranian women, and sent her to an "educational and orientation" class at police headquarters.
She was transferred to a hospital that same day in a coma and died two days later from internal injuries.
The government released video footage purporting to show the moment she collapsed.
"Eyewitnesses claim that Amini died due to injuries sustained while in Morality Police custody. Mahsa’s father told the press that authorities covered bruises on her body in the hospital and refused to let the family see them. LEF authorities have blamed her death on a heart ailment, but her family said she had no such condition," the department noted, adding that Iran’s Morality Police has demonstrated a culture of violence and excessive force under Rostami's command.
An anchor on Iran’s state television suggested the death toll from the mass protests could be as high as 17, but he did not say how he reached that figure.
The U.N. human rights office called for an investigation into the matter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.