Iran should expect more EU sanctions, says German leader Scholz

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BERLIN — Iran should expect more sanctions from the EU, Germany’s leader said on Saturday, adding that his country stands “shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people”.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz strongly criticized the Iranian government for its bloody crackdown on protests, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16.

Scholz said the protests were no longer “merely a question of dress codes” but had evolved into a fight for freedom and justice.

Unrest began when Amini died after being detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly. It has morphed into one of the largest and most significant challenges to Iran’s Islamic government in its history.

Scholz’s remarks come ahead of an EU meeting on Monday, where foreign ministers will mull slapping Iran with new sanctions over its violent repression, alongside supplying drones to Russian forces in Ukraine.

Many have called on the West to step up its efforts to support protestors and sanction the Iranian government, including expelling their diplomats and closing embassies.

A European diplomat, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said that about 30 people were set to be sanctioned by the bloc.

They are likely to be regime insiders or individuals linked to the government.

At least 326 protestors, including 43 children and 25 women, have been killed in Iran, according to figures released by Iran Human Rights on Saturday.

The true number is likely to be much higher, with many deaths going unreported.

The German leader praised the women-led protests in Iran, which have swept across the country.

“We can barely begin to imagine how much courage this takes,” Scholz said in his weekly video address.

“More than 300 killed, dozens of death sentences and more than 14,000 arrests. So far.

“Those who demonstrate against oppression in Iran risk their lives, and often also the lives of their loved ones — and face the prospect of torture and decades in prison.”

People in Germany with Iranian roots are concerned for their relatives and are “appalled and disgusted by what the Mullah regime is doing to the demonstrators,” the chancellor continued.

“It is clear that the Iranian government is solely responsible for this spate of violence.”

About 272,000 people of Iranian descent live in Germany, according to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany.

Transfers of drones from Iran to Russia would also be discussed, AFP quoted the anonymous EU official as saying.

Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Russia of using Iranian-made drones in recent weeks to carry out crippling attacks in Ukraine, causing intermittent blackouts and water shortages across the country.

Last weekend, Iran admitted it supplied Russia with drones for the first time, but maintained they were shipped before the war broke out.

Iran has denied providing Russia with weapons, claiming it is a neutral party to the conflict.

On Friday, Germany’s foreign minister rejected a complaint by her Iranian counterpart that she was wrongfully interfering in Iran’s domestic affairs.

She also pushed back against Tehran’s threat of a “firm” response.

In November, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, that she was taking an “interventionist” stance over protests in Iran.

This comment came after Baerbock made a speech to the German parliament in which she said Berlin would not let up in pursuing further sanctions against Tehran over the protest crackdown.

Responding to Amirabdollahian’s threat, Scholz said: “What kind of government does it make you if you shoot at your own citizens? Those who act in such a way must expect us to push back.” — Euronews



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