More sanctions against Iran for the death of Mahsa Amini after being arrested by the country’s Moral Police, and the repression of the protests that have taken place afterwards. This has been decided by the 27 Governments of the EU at the proposal of the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, and this has been published this Monday by the Official Gazette of the EU, which includes 11 more sanctioned people, along with four entities, among them the so-called Moral Police.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said: “We are making it clear that we are targeting those responsible who use brutal force against citizens, against women, against men, against teenagers, just because they want to live their lives as us, in freedom and in peace. And therefore we have a specific sanctions package to sanction those responsible who know no other answer than force against innocent citizens. Many, many sections of the population want nothing more than what we do here as women in Europe. Go out in the morning as you want, without a veil, as you want, singing and dancing at night. For this, women in Iran are beaten and sometimes killed. And that is why this new sanctions package, which we are launching now, will hold those responsible to account. This means that there will be an entry ban for those responsible for the deaths of many people in Iran who have done nothing but demonstrate for their human rights in the streets. Also, assets will be frozen and if this regime continues to hit its people in this way, there will be more sanctions packages targeting those responsible.”
“We define those responsible for the fact that people, especially women, who did nothing but fight for their rights, have died”, said the head of German diplomacy: “This applies to those involved in the so-called Morale Police, but it also affects those responsible on the ground. It is a first package of specific sanctions. If this violence continues like this, then more will follow.”
Mahsa Amini, 22, died on September 16 after being arrested by the so-called Morale Police in Tehran for considering that she was wearing the Islamic veil wrongly. The protests over the death of the young woman have varied, from large protests in the streets to mobilizations in universities and gestures of disobedience in the streets, such as removing her veil. The Police have suppressed the mobilizations with the use of batons, tear gas, water cannons and, according to the UN, live ammunition.
Iranian state television said 41 people have died, but the Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights puts the figure at 92.
According to the Official Journal of the EU, “the Moral Police is part of the Iranian Disciplinary Force and is a special police unit responsible for enforcing the strict dress code to which women are subjected, which includes the obligation of wearing the veil. The Moral Police have used unlawful force against women for failing to comply with Iranian hijab laws and are responsible for sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, excessive violence and torture.”
“On September 13, 2022,” reports the Official Gazette, “the Moral Police arbitrarily detained Mahsa Amini, 22, in Tehran, allegedly for wearing the hijab incorrectly. She was then transferred to the Morale Police headquarters to receive an ‘education and orientation class’. According to reliable reports and witnesses, while in police custody she was severely beaten and ill-treated, leading to her hospitalization and subsequent death on September 16, 2022. The abusive behavior of the Morale Police is not limited to that incident and is extensively documented. Therefore, the Morale Police is responsible for serious human rights violations in Iran.”
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, explained at the beginning of the meeting that “today’s sanctions on Iran are related to the repression against protesters”, in the midst of the debate on whether the drones that Russia is using to bomb Ukraine are Iranian, and what consequences that might have, as well as in the negotiations on Iranian nuclear capabilities within the JCPOA treaty.
Jeppe Kofod, Danish Foreign Minister, stated: “It is important that Iran fulfills all its commitments, and we will fulfill ours. But from what we can see now, Iranian drones are apparently being used to strike in central kyiv. This is an atrocity that we must address. We see that Iran itself, the leaders in Iran, are cracking down on their own population in an inhumane way and against all norms and rules. And we must react to that. And then, of course, Iran has to fulfill its obligations under the JCPOA, we want to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed power.”
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn explained: “Iran’s leaders have to look at the calendar and see that we are in 2022. People no longer want to be locked up, they want to breathe, especially young people, women. And the European Union is, of course, a role model in Iran, we give people hope. And of course the options we have are somewhat limited. We have added 11 people to the list. It is not the terrorists who are protesting and taking to the streets. And this regimen may have worked for the last 40 years, but now it doesn’t work anymore. And the nuclear deal, given the circumstances, I don’t think we can get it back on track at this point.”
11 people and four entities
The EU Council on Monday added 11 people and four entities to the list of people subject to restrictive measures in the context of Iran’s current human rights sanctions regime, following their role in the death of Mahsa Amini and the violent response to recent demonstrations in Iran.
The designations include those responsible for Mahsa Amini’s death: the Iranian Morale Police and two of its key figures, Mohammad Rostami and Hajahmad Mirzaei. In addition, the EU designates the Iranian Security Forces and Corps (LEF), as well as several of its local chiefs, for their role in the brutal repression of the protests. In addition, the EU includes Issa Zarepour, the Iranian Minister of Information Technology and Communications, for his responsibility in shutting down the Internet.
The measures imposed on Monday consist of a travel ban and an asset freeze. In addition, EU citizens and companies are prohibited from making funds available to the listed individuals and entities. Iran’s human rights sanctions regime also includes a ban on exporting to Iran equipment that could be used for internal repression and for monitoring telecommunications.
The list now comprises a total of 97 people and 8 entities.
“The European Union and its member states condemn the widespread and disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters. This is unjustifiable and unacceptable. People in Iran, as in any other place, have the right to protest peacefully and this right must be guaranteed in all circumstances”, affirm the 27: “The EU hopes that Iran will immediately stop the violent repression against peaceful protesters, release detainees and guarantee the free flow of information, including access to the Internet. In addition, the EU hopes that Iran will clarify the number of dead and arrested, and provide due process to all detainees. The murder of Mahsa Amini must be properly investigated and anyone responsible for the death of him must be held accountable”.