Germany’s Scholz: EU weighing further sanctions on Iran for crackdown on protests

Chancellor decries ‘excessive violence of the security forces,’ day after his foreign minister said bloc is considering labeling the Revolutionary Guards a terror group

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a press conference on October 31, 2022 in Berlin.(Carsten Koall/AFP)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a press conference on October 31, 2022 in Berlin.(Carsten Koall/AFP)

BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday that the European Union is considering further sanctions against Iran over its “excessive” crackdown on demonstrators.

“I am shocked that people who are peacefully demonstrating at protests in Iran are dying,” Scholz tweeted.

“We condemn the excessive violence of the security forces and stand by the people in Iran. Our EU sanctions are important. We are reviewing further steps.”

The Islamic Republic has been rocked by protests since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini following her arrest in Tehran for alleged breach of the country’s dress rules for women.

In response, the EU on October 17 imposed sanctions against Iran’s “morality police” and 11 officials including the telecommunications minister.

Last week, Berlin condemned Tehran for imposing sanctions on European-based media in retaliation and vowed to tighten its rules for entry to Iran, going beyond EU sanctions.

And on Sunday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that Berlin and the EU were examining whether to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.

In this September 22, 2014 photo, members of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard march during an annual military parade at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran, Iran (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani on Monday denounced the proposal.

“The Revolutionary Guards are the official military body of the Islamic Republic, and this action is completely illegal,” Kanani told reporters.

“Germany’s decision to sanction the Guards, if it takes such action, is a continuation of that country’s irresponsible and unconstructive actions.”

The Revolutionary Guards are already on the United States list of foreign terrorist entities.

EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said that for the bloc to list a terrorist organization, a member state had to decide to do so first using accepted criteria, followed by unanimous agreement among the EU members.

Baerbock’s comments came as protesters in Iran rallied again Sunday, defying an order from the Revolutionary Guards to stop the demonstrations.

In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, Iranians protest the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the morality police in Tehran, October 27, 2022. (Middle East Images/AP)

Amini, 22, died in custody on September 16 after her arrest in Tehran, triggering a wave of unrest and a state response on the “riots” that Amnesty International calls a “brutal crackdown.”

Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights said Friday that at least 160 protesters, including more than two dozen children, had been killed since protests began.

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