German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says Berlin will support more EU sanctions against the Iranian clerical regime, accusing the government of being “solely responsible” for the deadly violence that has rocked Iran over the past eight weeks.
The September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest by Tehran’s morality police for allegedly not complying with hijab regulations triggered a nationwide wave of unrest that was met with a brutal crackdown by security forces. The movement has turned into the biggest challenge for the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
Speaking in his weekly video podcast on November 12, Scholz said the demonstrations "have long ceased to be merely a question of dress codes."
"Pupils, students, mothers, fathers, grandparents — all of them are fighting on the streets for more freedom and justice," he said.
"Here in our country, we can barely begin to imagine how much courage this takes. More than 300 killed, dozens of death sentences, and more than 14,000 arrests — so far. Those who demonstrate against oppression in Iran risk their lives, and often also the lives of their loved ones, and face the prospect of torture and decades in prison.”
The chancellor said Germany would support further sanctions that are expected to be announced next week, and that his country is pushing for a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to be convened to address the situation in Iran. The session is expected to take place later this month.
Scholz also alluded to comments from Foreign Minster Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warning of an "appropriate and decisive" response if Berlin supports more sanctions.
"I can only say this to the leadership in Tehran: What kind of government does it make you if you shoot at your own citizens? Those who act in such a way must expect us to push back.”
Iran summoned the German ambassador to Tehran earlier in the protests, accusing Berlin of interference in Iran’s internal affairs.
Scholz’s comments came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron met with a delegation of exiled Iranian rights activists at the Elysee Palace.
"We welcomed with great honour and pleasure a delegation of Iranian women," Macron said after the meeting.
"I want here to really emphasize to them again our respect and our admiration in the context of the revolution they are leading."
The Iranian delegation included U.S.-based activist Masih Alinejad, Shima Babaei, who has campaigned for justice for her father who has disappeared in Iran, and Ladan Boroumand, the co-founder of a Washington-based human rights group, according to the presidential office.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has previously criticized the French president for making "meddlesome" remarks about the ongoing unrest.