BRUSSELS: The European Union will target eight Iranian militia and police commanders and three state entities with sanctions next week over a deadly crackdown in November 2019 by Iranian authorities, three diplomats said yesterday.
The travel bans and asset freezes will be the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on Iran for human rights abuses since 2013 and are set to be put in place some time next week after the Easter holidays in Europe, the diplomats said.
The individuals to be targeted include members of Iran’s hard-line Basij militia, who are under the command of the Revolutionary Guards.
About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on November 15, 2019, according to a toll provided by three Iranian interior ministry officials at the time. The United Nations said the total was at least 304.
On March 9, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, presented a report saying Tehran used lethal force during the protests and chided it for failing to conduct a proper investigation or for failing to hold anyone accountable.
Asked why the bloc had taken so long to process its sanctions response, an EU diplomat involved in the preparations cited the need for strong evidence against those hit with the punitive measures.
The bloc has also shied away from angering Iran in the hope of safeguarding a nuclear accord Tehran signed with world powers in 2015.
The three diplomats said the sanctions were not linked to efforts to revive the nuclear deal, which the US pulled out of but now seeks to re-join. That deal made it harder for Iran to amass the fissile material needed for a nuclear bomb in return for sanctions relief.
After days of protests across Iran in November 2019, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued an order to crackdown on protesters.