EU sanctions Iran’s ‘morality police’

The European bloc also warned of additional penalties over alleged arms sales to Moscow

The European Union has imposed sanctions on several Iranian officials and entities, accusing authorities of killing a young woman in custody and using force to repress demonstrations that erupted in response. 

EU foreign ministers agreed on the new penalties following a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, slapping travel bans and asset freezes on 11 Iranian officials, including Information Minister Issa Zarepour and the head of the country’s ‘morality police,’ Mohammad Rostami, as well as other law enforcement personnel. 

The bloc said the sanctions on police officials were in retaliation for the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman who died under suspicious circumstances after being arrested for wearing an “inappropriate” hijab – a headscarf worn by many Muslim women, which is compulsory in Iran. 

Zarepour, meanwhile, was penalized for his alleged role in an internet shutdown across the country during mass protests over Amini’s death, some of which grew violent and resulted in bloodshed among both demonstrators and police.

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In addition to the ‘morality police’ – known formally as the Gasht-e-Ershad (Guidance Patrol) – the EU also sanctioned Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces, the Cyber Defense Command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and a volunteer paramilitary wing of the IRGC known as the ‘Basij Resistance Force.’ 

Under the new measures, EU citizens and companies are forbidden from providing funds to the targeted individuals or agencies, while exports of certain equipment which “might be used for internal repression” or for surveillance of citizens have also been blacklisted.

At the same foreign minister’s meeting, the bloc also hinted at additional penalties on Iran over its alleged sale of military drones to Russia, which have reportedly been used in the conflict in Ukraine, though neither Tehran or Moscow have confirmed any such purchases.

The United States imposed its own sanctions on the Guidance Patrol back in September for “abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters,” a decision followed by Britain earlier this month.

Though Amini’s family insists the woman was tortured in custody and killed by a blow to the head, an official coroner’s report issued by Iranian authorities said she died of a lack of oxygen to the brain, suggesting she had underlying health conditions related to a brain tumor operation she had as a child. The report did not specify whether Amini had suffered any injuries prior to her passing, however, and failed to quell the ongoing string of demonstrations.

READ MORE: Cause of Mahsa Amini’s death revealed by Iranian coroner


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