Ahead of sanctions meeting, Iran urges EU take ‘realistic approach’ over protests

Bloc’s foreign ministers set to endorse sanctions for Tehran’s lethal crackdown on demonstrations; Iran FM: ‘Who would believe the death of one girl is so important to Westerners?’

Iranians who live in Brazil protest the death of Mahsa Amini, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 23, 2022 (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)
Iranians who live in Brazil protest the death of Mahsa Amini, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, September 23, 2022 (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

TEHRAN — Iran has called on the European Union to adopt a “realistic approach” regarding the protests over Mahsa Amini’s death as the bloc prepares to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

EU countries on Wednesday agreed to level new sanctions on the Islamic Republic over the “crackdown” during a month of demonstrations over Amini’s death. The move is due to be endorsed at the bloc’s foreign ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

“We recommend that Europeans look at the issue with a realistic approach,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in a phone call Friday.

In a separate statement on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian said: “Who would believe that the death of one girl is so important to Westerners?”

“If it is so, what did they do regarding the hundreds of thousands of martyrs and deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon?” he added.

Iran has been rocked by protests since Amini’s death on September 16, three days after she was arrested by so-called morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

A garbage container blocks a road in the Iranian capital Tehran on October 8, 2022. (Photo obtained by AFP outside of Iran)

The street violence has led to dozens of deaths, mostly among protestors but also members of the security forces, while hundreds have been arrested.

“Iran is not the land of velvet or color coups,” he continued in his call with Borrell, in reference to Western-backed protest movements in Europe and elsewhere.

“Iran is the anchor of lasting stability and security in the region,” he added, according to a ministry statement early Saturday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian speaks in Moscow, Russia, August 31, 2022. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)

Borrell meanwhile stressed that “people in Iran have the right to peaceful protest and to defend fundamental rights.”

“Violent repression must stop immediately. Protesters must be released,” he wrote on Twitter Friday, adding that “internet access and accountability are needed.”

Iranian officials have previously criticized Western “hypocrisy” over the issue of human rights.

Activists participate in a demonstration on the Place de la Republique in Paris, on September 30, 2022, to support Iranian women following the death of Masha Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman. (Thomas Samson/AFP)

“It is not right that in Europe, the most violent confrontation with riots is a good and acceptable act, but the same act within the legal framework in Iran is considered repression,” Amir-Abdollahian told Borrell.

The United States, Canada and Britain have already imposed sanctions on Iranian officials and entities over the protests.

Tehran has warned of tit-for-tat measures if the EU makes a similar move.

“In their meddlesome statements, some countries… put the subject of issuing a resolution or imposing sanctions (on Iran) on the agenda” of the EU foreign ministers’ meeting, Amir-Abdollahian said in a separate conversation with his Portuguese counterpart Joao Gomes Cravinho Friday.

In the event that such a measure is taken, “the Islamic Republic of Iran will take reciprocal action,” he was quoted as saying by the ministry.

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