The European Union has imposed sanctions on 29 Iranian individuals and three organizations over their alleged roles in an “unacceptable violent crackdown” by security forces on an ongoing wave of anti-government protests.
It is the second round of sanctions slapped by the bloc since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality police eight weeks ago triggered nationwide demonstrations against the clerical regime.
Security forces have responded to the mainly peaceful protests with a heavy-handed clampdown that has killed more than 300 people. Activists say more than 14,000 others have been arrested or detained.
Those newly targeted with travel bans and asset freezes include four members of the squad that arrested Amini, high-ranking members of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Iranian Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who the EU says is “responsible for serious human rights violations in Iran” due to police actions during the rallies.
The bloc also targeted Iranian state broadcaster Press TV, saying that it was “responsible for producing and broadcasting the forced confessions of detainees” taken into custody.
Meanwhile, Britain said that Iran’s Communications Minister Issa Zarepour and the head of Iran’s Cyber Police, Vahid Mohammad Naser Majid, would face similar restrictions in the U.K. for "Shutting down the internet in Iran, including disabling Whatsapp and Instagram, and banning the use of the Google Play app and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).”
A statement said 22 other Iranian political and security officials were also listed over the “brutal violence aimed at protesters.”
“The EU strongly condemns the unacceptable violent crackdown of protesters,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement after the EU foreign ministers endorsed the new sanctions.
“We stand with the Iranian people and support their right to protest peacefully and voice their demands and views freely.”
As she arrived for the ministers’ meeting in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters that the sanctions are meant "to send a clear message to those who think they can suppress, intimidate and kill their own people without consequences."
"They cannot," Baerbock added. "The world, Europe is watching."
"The great difficulty is to be certain that the right people are sanctioned, those who are at the heart of the system," French President Emmanuel Macron told Radio France earlier, insisting that the measures should not harm the Iranian population.
In a first round of sanctions in October, the EU imposed travel bans and asset freezes on 15 Iranian individuals and institutions linked to Amini’s death and the crackdown on the wave of protests.