Iran Hangings 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
BERLIN – The European Union is slated to probe in early March the possibility of
targeted human rights sanctions against Iranian leaders.
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Writing on the
Politico website, Washington-based journalist Laura Rozen first reported
Saturday on her foreign policy blog that “European diplomats have prepared a
list of over 80 Iranian militia and police unit commanders, prison guards,
prosecutors, judges and ministry bureaucrats that will be taken up for
discussion for possible European Union sanctions for alleged torture, murder and
other human rights violations against Iranian citizens.”
provided a link in her blog to the EU document, which outlines the names of the
targeted individuals. The list is, by EU standards, expansive and includes
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps – an organization already outlawed as a global
terrorist entity by the US – leaders, Basij militia commanders and penitentiary
officials from the Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, such as Hassan Akharian, Mr.
Mirzaghayi, Mr. Zeynali, Mr. Youssefi, and Mr. Morradi.
the EU is unwilling to sanction the IRGC as an organization, whose
military-industrial complex tentacles reach into as much as 75 percent of the
Iranian economy. The EU is Iran’s second largest trade partner after
The EU human rights sanctions could ratchet up the pressure on
Iran’s rulers, largely because many sanctions experts view human rights
penalties, and a “name and shame” strategy, as a particularly vulnerable
pressure point for a government that is worried about its international image at
a time of turmoil in the Muslim world.
According to the proposed EU human
rights sanctions list, the measures would also target Reza Taghipour, the
minister of information and communications, and his deputy, Abdolmajid Riyazi,
as well as Mehrdad Omidi, who runs the Computer Crimes Unit of the Iranian
Police. Behrouz Kamalian, who oversees an IRGC-controlled cyber-group, is also
While there has been a whirl of human rights rhetoric in the
Brussels-based EU parliament about Iran, the only EU country to take diplomatic
action against Iran because of its human rights violations was the Netherlands
because of the extra-judicial execution of the Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra
Iran’s judiciary hanged Bahrami in late January based on charges
of alleged narcotics trafficking. Critics claim Iran’s rulers used phony
narcotics charges as a pretext to execute her for participating in pro-democracy
demonstrations against Iran’s reported manipulation of the 2009 presidential
election. The Netherlands froze diplomatic relations with Iran’s regime and
recalled its ambassador, who has since returned to Tehran.
the execution of Bahrami, the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee,
whose chairman is Italy’s Gabriele Albertini, issued a statement in early
February, noting that “Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs believe that the time has
come for the EU to devise a new, broader strategy towards Iran, which goes
beyond the nuclear issue and addresses Iran’s human rights record and regional
role. They call on EU foreign ministers to impose sanctions targeting Iranian
officials responsible for serious human rights abuses since the disputed
presidential election of June 2009, in line with similar measures taken by the
USA last September.”
The Obama administration imposed unprecedented human
rights sanctions last September on eight high-level Iranian government officials
for committing torture, rape, violent beatings and unlawful detention of Iranian
citizens. The sanctions aimed to penalize only the members of the Iranian regime
and military apparatus who were responsible for crushing the pro-democracy
protests in 2009.