German minister calls for EU sanctions over Iran crackdown

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s foreign minister is calling for European Union entry bans and an asset freeze against those responsible for what she described as a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in Iran.

The most sustained protests against Iran’s theocracy in years are now in their fourth week. They erupted on September 17 after the burial of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman who died in the custody of Iran’s fearsome morality police. Amini had been detained for an alleged violation of strict Islamic dress codes for women.

Since then, protests have spread across the country and been met with a fierce crackdown, in which dozens of people have reportedly been killed and hundreds arrested.

“Those who beat women and girls in the streets, take away people who want nothing more than to live freely, arbitrarily arrest them and sentence them to death are on the wrong side of history,” said the German minister. of Foreign Affairs Annalena Baerbock. The Sunday Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“We will ensure that the EU imposes entry bans on those responsible for this brutal crackdown and freezes their assets in the EU,” she added. “We say to the Iranians: we stand and remain by your side.

Baerbock did not name specific individuals or organizations.

On Thursday, European lawmakers approved a resolution calling for sanctions against those responsible for Amini’s death and subsequent crackdown.

Germany, along with fellow EU member France, is among countries that are part of a 2015 deal with Iran to address concerns over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program and have attempted to revive the agreement.

Talks on the deal have languished, but if reinstated, the deal would provide sanctions relief that would help strengthen Iran’s government.

On Sunday, videos on Iranian social media emerged showing students staging a protest at the al-Zahra University campus in Tehran, a day after students chanted against the Iranian president during a visit there. down.

Demonstrations erupted in cities across Iran on Saturday. In Tehran’s bazaar, traditionally a stronghold of Iran’s rulers, a mob set fire to a police kiosk. Later in the evening, anti-government marches drew large crowds in the center of the capital, Naziabad, social media posts showed.

In the face of continuing unrest, authorities have turned to targeting prominent Iranians who have expressed support for the protests.

The semi-official ILNA news agency reported that Iranian officials seized the passports of Homayoun Shajarian, a prominent singer, and Sahar Dolatshahi, an actress, after the couple returned from a concert tour in Australia. Saturday. The passports were seized at Tehran International Airport, the news agency said.

Shajarian had expressed his support for the protesters during his overseas tour. At a concert on September 13, a large photo of Mahsa Amini served as a stage backdrop and he sang an old song about cruelty and oppressors.

Another backdrop had the caption, “Don’t kill these people. These people deserve life, not death. These people deserve happiness and freedom. My position is clear, I will always be at the side of the people of my land.

Authorities have also arrested a number of prominent artists, including singer Shervin Hajipour whose song “For” has become the anthem of the protest movement. Hajipour was released on bail on October 4.

At the same time, Iranian officials have used state media to blame foreign powers for the unrest.

At least four presenters from Iran’s public broadcaster have resigned “to support the Iranian people’s protests”, a journalist from the reformist daily Shargh tweeted on Sunday. The IRIB has recently and in the past broadcast coerced confessions from detainees.

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