EU sanctions 2 Iranian ministers over protest crackdown

Iranian police arrive to disperse a protest to mark 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, in Tehran, Iran, October 26, 2022. (Frame grab from video taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran/AP Photo)
Iranian police arrive to disperse a protest to mark 40 days since the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, in Tehran, Iran, October 26, 2022. (Frame grab from video taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran/AP Photo)

BRUSSELS — The European Union imposes asset freezes and visa bans on Iran’s education and culture ministers, in a fifth round of sanctions against Tehran over its crackdown on demonstrators.

The new measures target 32 individuals and two entities, and are largely aimed at lawmakers, judiciary officials and prison authorities accused of involvement in the repression, according to the EU’s official journal.

Iran was rocked by months of nationwide protests last year after the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September following her arrest for an alleged breach of the dress code.

Iran has arrested at least 14,000 people in the wave of protests, according to the United Nations.

Iranian authorities have executed four people for their role in the unrest and imposed the death penalty on a total of 18, triggering widespread international outrage.

The latest round of sanctions from the EU includes Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili for persecuting artists and filmmakers who did not support the government.

Education Minister Yousef Nouri is added to the blacklist for the targeting and detention of school pupils engaged in the protests.

Judges, prosecutors and senior prison officials are also included in the new sanctions over their involvement in alleged abuses.

The EU had already imposed sanctions on more than 70 Iranian officials and entities over the crackdown on protesters, including the “morality police,” Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders and state media.

But the 27-nation bloc has so far stopped short of blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards themselves as a terror group, despite calls from Germany and the Netherlands to do so.

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