Iran said on Monday it is suspending talks on human rights with the European Union, after the bloc’s decision to sanction eight Iranian militia commanders and police chiefs, over the deadly crackdown in November 2019.
“Iran is suspending all human rights talks and cooperation resulting from these talks with the EU, especially in the areas of terrorism, drugs and refugees,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter, “condemning” the EU’s decision.
Earlier, the EU imposed sanctions on eight Iranian militia commanders and police chiefs, including the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
The sanctioned officials include Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guards, the most powerful and heavily armed security force in Iran. Other individuals targeted with EU sanctions, which take effect on Monday, include members of Iran’s hardline Basij militia, who are under the command of the Revolutionary Guards, and its head Gholamreza Soleimani.
About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on Nov. 15, 2019, according to a toll provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials at the time. The United Nations said the total was at least 304.
On March 9, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman, presented a report saying Tehran used lethal force during the protests and chided it for failing to conduct a proper investigation or failing to hold anyone accountable.
The EU also decided to extend sanction over human rights violations in Iran until 13 April 2022, which include: a travel ban and an asset freeze, a ban on exports to Iran of equipment which might be used for internal repression and of equipment for monitoring telecommunications and banning EU citizens and companies from making funds available to the listed individuals and entities.
The decision comes at a delicate time as the EU hosts indirect talks between the US and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal Washington withdrew from under former President Donald Trump in 2018.
- With Reuters