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The European Union imposes sanctions on members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and is considering including a terrorist list

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The European Union has sanctioned several members and entities linked to Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards over human rights abuses, as it considers a decision to add the group to the bloc’s terrorism list.

“The European Union will continue to support the rights of Iranians in defense of their basic human rights,” EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell said after a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

Tehran has cracked down on demonstrations, including carrying out recent executions of protesters, which resulted from the death of a young Iranian Kurdish woman, Mohsa Amini, in police custody after her arrest for allegedly violating strict Islamic dress codes.

The new punitive measures took effect on Monday, targeting Abbas Nilfurushan, a deputy commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the commander of a unit tasked with suppressing protests.

Ravin Academy, a cybersecurity firm linked to the IRGC and Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, was also included for its role in recruiting hackers to disrupt protester communications.

Iran’s Minister of Sports and Youth, Hamid Sajadi, has been targeted for his role in punishing Iranian athletes who have spoken out against repression in Iran. The European Union said Sajadi was personally involved in the regime’s discipline of Naz Rekabi, an Iranian female mountaineer who competed last year in South Korea without a head covering as required under Iran’s Islamic dress code. According to the EU, Rekabe was forced to apologize and her family home was reportedly demolished in December.

In total 37 targets – 18 individuals and 19 entities – were subject to an EU asset freeze and travel ban. This is the fourth round of EU sanctions since the protests began in September 2022. In all, 164 individuals and 31 entities linked to human rights abuses have been targeted in Iran.

Ahead of the meeting, German Foreign Minister Analina Berbock once again urged the European Union to put the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the terrorist bloc’s list. Berbuck said continued “atrocities” in Iran meant the EU should “discuss legal options” to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

The European Parliament last week also called for the group to be included in the vote. However, the move is a legal challenge. Borrell said the bloc would first need a ruling by a court in an EU member state that would classify the IRGC as a terrorist organisation.

There must be conviction first [by] “A court in one member state,” Borrell said. Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, said this was necessary to be “completely court” in legal terms. The IRGC’s placement on the bloc’s terror list can be challenged in EU court systems.

The IRGC is Iran’s elite armed forces. Created after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this unit is supposed to prevent coups and protect the state’s ideology. It has come under increasing criticism for its involvement in the aggressive suppression of recent unrest in Iran on behalf of the government.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said, “Repression continues in Iran. The rights of Iranian men and women to demonstrate peacefully are not recognised, and violations continue.” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg added that the Tehran regime is “on a collision course with its own people” and is trying to “brutally crush the civil society movement.”

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