The EU Monday designated 20 people and Iran’s state media over reported human rights abuses, along with eight people or entities over sending drones to Russia.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called the package “very tough,” and an EU foreign minister’s statement criticized a “brutal and disproportionate use of force” against protests. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the sanctions would target “in particular those who are responsible for the executions, the violence against innocent people...especially the Revolutionary Guards.”

Iran Monday executed the second person over the unrest, which has seen the deaths of 488 protestors and 62 members of the police or security forces, according to Norway-based HRANA.

Among those sanctioned Monday under the human-rights rubric were Major-General Abdolrahim Mousavi, commander-in-chief of Iran’s army. A range of designated regional commanders of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) were largely concentrated in the mainly Kurdish northwest, which along with the Baluchi south east has seen the most violence. IRGC commanders in the provinces of Tehran, Mazandaran, Alborz, Markazi, were also listed along with Sistan-Baluchistan’s provincial police chief.

As well as designating state broadcaster IRIB, the EU listed Peyman Jebelli, its director, IRIB’s deputy director, its head of foreign services, and Ali Rezvani, who is a "journalist-interrogator" of political prisoners. Ahmad Khatami, Tehran prayer leader, was added, the EU statement said, as the cleric “with a large audience…leverages his position to verbally attack and incite violence against protesters.” All designated individuals risk the loss of assets in the EU.

Ali Rezvani and a female "interrogator-journalist" who were sanctioned by the EU

The EU in November sanctioned Hossein Salami, the IRGC commander, and Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC aerospace force, as well as the aerospace force and a military company, over sending military drones to Russia, but the EU has not sanctioned the IRGC as a whole. The United States in 2019 listed the Guards as a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ as part of its ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, the only occasion it has designated part of a state’s armed forces.

Under Monday’s new sanctions, the EU designated four additional individuals, including the head of Iran’s air force, over the drones, as well four military contractors or design companies.

The EU foreign ministers’ statement said the drones were “being used indiscriminately by Russia against Ukrainian civilian population and infrastructure causing horrendous destruction and human suffering.” The ministers agreed another €2 billion ($2.1 million) in military aid for Ukraine, adding to the €2 billion already sent, while a further package of sanctions on Russia, the EU’s ninth, is reportedly being held up by Hungary. The US has sent Ukraine $20 billion in weapons, and the UK $2.3 billion.

‘Turning Iran into a second North Korea’

The new EU sanctions on Iran over human rights abuses brought to 166 individuals and 12 entities the total it has sanctioned on such grounds. Those designated in the last batch on November 14 included provincial police commanders in Kurdish and Baluchi regions, the army’s ground-forces commander, the minister of the interior, and members of the Tehran ‘morality police.’

With the rial falling further as US ‘maximum pressurecontinues and unrest undermines business confidence, Hannah Neumann, a German Green Party member of the European Parliament, told Iran International in an interview she saw no justification for European states breaking off diplomatic links or expelling Tehran from United Nations bodies.

“I don’t think it helps protestors in Iran, if we turn the country into a second North Korea by closing all our embassies,” she said. “This is my personal opinion. Others have a different one. I respect that. Isn’t that what we all fight for, democracy and freedom of expression?”

Neumann claimed that “what is happening in Iran is the world’s first feminist revolution.” She said it would give hope to women in Egypt, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East as well as around the globe.

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