The European Union has imposed sanctions on dozens of Iranian officials and entities, including the sports minister, provincial governors and lawmakers, for their involvement in the Islamic Republic’s crackdown on anti-government protests.
Meeting in Brussels on January 23, the EU’s 27 foreign ministers agreed on a new package of sanctions “targeting those driving the repression,” the Swedish EU presidency said in a tweet on January 23.
The bloc “strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters,” it added.
The sanctions included a travel ban and asset freeze on Sports and Youth Minister Hamid Sajjadi, who the EU accused of pressuring Iran’s athletes into silence.
Restrictive measures were slapped on the governors of Sistan and Baluchestan province and Kurdistan province, four hard-line members of parliament, as well as senior officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and some of the force’s regional units.
The Iranian Special Police Forces were also targeted, accused of using “excessive violence and lethal force against unarmed protestors, including women and children…by firing automatic weapons at protestors.”
Another asset freeze was imposed on the Headquarters for Enjoining Right and Forbidding Evil, a government body that the EU believes is responsible “for determining and enforcing excessively strict behavioral models in society.”
Companies linked to cyber-security, spyware, social media filtering, and the production of security equipment used to repress Iranian protesters were also hit by sanctions.
The EU had already imposed three rounds of sanctions on Iranian officials and organizations for their involvement in the crackdown on more than four months of nationwide protests and the supply of drones to Russia’s military engaged in Ukraine.
The Iranian authorities have cracked down hard on the protest movement triggered by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of morality. Amini had been arrested for allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly.
Security forces have killed more than 500 people, including dozens of children, and detained over 18,000, human rights activists say.
Around 20 people have been handed capital punishment in connection with the protests. Four of them have been executed so far amid international outrage.
Many detainees have been handed long-term prison sentences.