The European Union on Monday sanctioned officials of Iran’s morality police and Tehran’s information minister for their role in the Islamic Republic’s violent crackdown on protesters demonstrating against the death of a young woman held by the morality police for failing to properly cover her hair with a hijab.
The 27-nation bloc froze the assets of 11 people, including two leading morality police officials, Mohammad Rostami and Haj Ahmad Mirzaei, and Information Minister Issa Zarepour, who was cited for his alleged responsibility in the internet shutdown after the protests started. They were also banned from traveling in Europe.
EU foreign ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, also targeted the Iranian Law Enforcement Forces and several local police chiefs “for their role in the brutal repression of the protests.”
The demonstrations started in mid-September after the arrest and death days later of Mahsa Amini, who was 22 years old. Dozens of protesters have been killed by security officials during street demonstrations throughout Iran.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the EU “cannot and will not close our eyes” to the crackdown in Iran. “It is also clear that, if this regime continues to pummel its population in this way, there will be further targeted sanctions packages against those responsible,” she said.
In the statement, the EU condemned “the widespread and disproportionate use of force against peaceful protestors. This is unjustifiable and unacceptable. People in Iran, as anywhere else, have the right to peacefully protest and this right must be ensured in all circumstances.”
Several European ministers also warned that they will impose additional sanctions against Tehran if the Iranian government’s intervention in Russia’s war against Ukraine is proven.
Russia is believed to have purchased explosives-laden Iranian drones it has been launching against Ukrainian cities in recent days, including Kyiv on Monday, although Iran has denied sales of the unmanned weaponry.
VOA Persian Service contributed to this report.