The president of the European Commission has called on Iranian authorities to stop the violence against protesters, saying “women must be able to choose.”
Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that “The brave Iranian women demand freedom and equality -- values that Europe believes in and must speak up for.”
Describing the current uprising in Iran sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini as "a cry for equality and women's rights," she said Europe's message must be “crystal clear.”
Noting that the “shocking violence” by the Islamic Republic's repression machine “cannot stay unanswered," she reiterated calls for sanctions on those responsible for the clampdown. “We have to work on sanctions together.”
Last week, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning Mahsa Amini’s killingand instructing all member states “to use the mechanisms envisaged in the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders to support and protect” protesters.
The European Union has not given any indication of what sanctions may be agreed at the foreign ministers’ meeting on October 17. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told Bild am Sonntag, a Sunday newspaper, that Berlin would support measures freezing the assets and banning the EU entry of those responsible for “brutal suppression,” referring to antigovernment protests.
The bloc last agreed to human rights sanctions on Tehran in 2021. No Iranians had been added to that list since 2013, however, as the bloc has shied away from such measures in the hope of reviving a nuclear accord with Iran after the United States withdrew in 2018. Those talks have now stalled. It currently has an array of sanctions on about 90 Iranian individuals which have been renewed annually every April.