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France seeks EU freeze on Iran officials’ assets, travel bans over protest crackdown

Paris said to be working with Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic on new measures against Tehran

Women protest with placards during the unveiling of a banner on the facade of the town hall in support of the Iranians fighting for their freedom and against obscurantism in their country, in Montpellier, southern France, on October 3, 2022. (Pascal GUYOT / AFP)
Women protest with placards during the unveiling of a banner on the facade of the town hall in support of the Iranians fighting for their freedom and against obscurantism in their country, in Montpellier, southern France, on October 3, 2022. (Pascal GUYOT / AFP)

PARIS, France — France was pushing for the European Union to “target senior officials and hold them responsible for their actions” over Iran’s repression of protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, foreign minister Catherine Colonna told parliament Tuesday.

Proposed sanctions include “freezing their assets and their right to travel”, Colonna said, criticising Tehran officials who she said “repress [protests] on the one hand and send many of their own children to live in the West on the other.”

Citing diplomatic sources, Germany’s Der Spiegel had reported Monday that Paris was working with Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic on new sanctions against Tehran.

Amini, 22, was pronounced dead on September 16, days after the notorious morality police detained the Kurdish Iranian for allegedly breaching rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.

Anger over her death has sparked the biggest wave of protests to rock Iran in almost three years and a state crackdown that has seen scores of protesters killed and more than 1,000 arrested.

US President Joe Biden Monday vowed “further costs on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protesters.”

An activist wears a message on her protective face mask “Stop Killing Us” during a protest against the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini in Iran, in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.(AP/Hassan Ammar)

The unrest has overshadowed diplomatic efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers which had come close to a breakthrough in recent months before stalling again.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had accused arch-foes the United States and Israel of fomenting the upheaval.

The riots “were engineered by America and the occupying, false Zionist regime, as well as their paid agents, with the help of some traitorous Iranians abroad”, the Islamic republic’s leader said this week.

At least 92 protesters have been killed so far in the Mahsa Amini rallies, according to the Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, which has been working to assess the death toll despite internet outages and blocks on WhatsApp, Instagram and other online services.

Amnesty International said earlier this week it had confirmed 53 deaths, after Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said last week that “around 60” people had died.

At least 12 members of the security forces have been reported killed since September 16.

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