EU plans to impose sanctions on 40 Iranian citizens and groups

Brussels has announced three rounds of sanctions since the start of protests triggered by Mahsa Amini's death in September

Iranians protest against the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in Tehran last October. AP
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The EU is considering new sanctions against about 40 Iranian citizens and entities over Tehran's brutal clampdown on protests triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini last year.

Documents prepared by bloc officials set out a sanctions package that includes 17 people, namely politicians, media officials plus current and former officials in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The sanctions are part of the EU's continued response to human rights offences committed by Iran.

The demonstrations represent a significant challenge to the country's leadership. Ms Amini died in the custody of Iran's morality policy in September after she was accused of wearing her hijab “inappropriately”.

US-based human rights monitor HRANA said more than 500 people had been killed in the repression and close to 20,000 arrested.

At least four demonstrators have been executed by hanging after what rights groups have described as sham trials.

One of most prominent figures that is reportedly a target of the coming EU sanctions is Iranian Sports Minister Hamid Sajjadi Hazaveh, according to report in Politico.

EU documents said he was “responsible for pressurising Iran’s athletes into silence, to prevent them from speaking out internationally against repression in Iran”.

The documents allege that Mr Sajjadi Hazaveh was personally involved in the case of Iranian athlete climber Elnaz Rekabi, who competed without the hijab.

The documents indicate that, as a result, Iranian authorities demolished her home.

The EU is also considering imposing sanctions on current and former IRGC officials and 20 Iranian entities.

They include the country’s Communication Regulation Authority, for its role in filtering internet access in the country, and the Ravin Academy, which trains hackers “involved in directly disrupting the communication of those protesting against the Iranian regime”, reported Politico.

EU ambassadors must discuss the reported draft sanctions before they are approved by EU foreign ministers later this month.

Should they be adopted, the latest round of sanctions would be similar in scope to previous ones adopted by the EU over Iran’s human rights offences.

The EU has announced new sanctions against Iran every month since the protests began in September.

On October 17, the bloc imposed sanctions on 11 people and four entities, including Iran’s morality police and law enforcement forces.

The country’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology Issa Zarepour was also included on the sanctions list for the role he played in the internet shutdown.

On November 14, the EU placed sanctions on another 29 people and three entities, including Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's cyber police chief Vahid Majid and provincial leaders of the IRGC.

Further sanctions were adopted on December 12. They also included people and entities involved in Iran’s drone programme.

The EU has accused Tehran of sending drones to Russia to use in its war in Ukraine.

EU countries such as Germany, the UK and France are also separately considering listing the IRGC as a terrorist organisation — as the US did in 2019.

Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said listing the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organisation was politically important and made sense.

Updated: January 13, 2023, 4:23 PM