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EU sanctions 29 Iranians, three organisations over crackdown on protests

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EU sanctions 29 Iranians, three organisations over crackdown on protests

Iranians woman protest a 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini’s death after she was detained by the morality police, in Tehran. File.

Iranians woman protest a 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini’s death after she was detained by the morality police, in Tehran. File.
| Photo Credit: AP

The European Union on Tuesday slapped additional sanctions on Iran, targeting 29 individuals and three organisations, in response to what it has condemned as Tehran’s widespread use of force against peaceful protesters.

“We stand with the Iranian people and support their right to protest peacefully and voice their demands and views freely,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

The protests, triggered by the Sept. 16 death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody, mark one of the boldest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. So far, 336 demonstrators have been killed in the unrest and nearly 15,100 detained, according to the activist HRANA news agency.

Among those sanctioned with travel bans and asset freezes are four members of the squad that arrested Amini, high-ranking members of the Revolutionary Guards and Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, according to an EU statement.

The sanctions are meant “to send a clear message to those who think they can suppress, intimidate and kill their own people without consequences,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters as she arrived for a meeting with her EU counterparts in Brussels.

“They cannot,” she added. “The world, Europe is watching.”

In a first round of sanctions in October, the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 15 Iranian individuals and institutions linked to the young woman’s death and the clamp-down on protests.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is another major topic of the discussions in Brussels amid speculation that the West may nudge Kyiv to enter negotiations with Moscow.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the decision on talks was up to Ukraine.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis urged his counterparts to assure Ukraine of their unwavering support in light of what he called “unhelpful” speculations.

“Maybe … the ministers can agree on the position that peace in Ukraine can only come under Ukrainian terms,” he said, while accusing the EU of moving too slowly on a ninth package of Russia sanctions.

The meeting of foreign ministers on Monday, followed by talks of the defence ministers on Tuesday, is the EU’s first high-level gathering since Russian forces abandoned Kherson, the only regional Ukrainian capital they had captured.

Some experts say the latest setback for Moscow could allow Ukraine to negotiate from a position of strength, while others argue that Russia might use negotiations to buy time to reset and refit its forces for a renewed spring offensive.

EU foreign ministers were to discuss increasing support for Kyiv during the winter and also touch on a ninth package of sanctions on Russia, though diplomats said no decision was expected yet.

They were also set to start a discussion on a long-term approach to Moscow since the EU’s past strategy, which saw selective engagement with Russia on topics such as counter-terrorism and climate change, was made obsolete by Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

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