The EU on Tuesday said that it was weighing tough new sanctions on Iran over a lethal crackdown on protests sparked by the “killing” of Mahsa Amini, after a similar move by the US.
Amini, 22, was pronounced dead on Sept. 16, days after the morality police detained the Kurdish Iranian for allegedly contravening rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.
Anger flared at her funeral and spread to become the biggest wave of protests to rock Iran in almost three years.
A crackdown has seen scores of demonstrators killed and hundreds arrested.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said that the bloc was considering “all the options at our disposal, including restrictive measures, to address the killing of Mahsa Amini and the way Iranian security forces have been responding to the demonstrations.”
It came after US President Joe Biden said that the US would impose “further costs” this week on “perpetrators of violence against peaceful protesters” in Iran.
Rights groups voiced deep concern after Iranian riot police used tear gas and paintball guns against hundreds of students at Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology on Sunday, with video footage showing detainees being taken away with fabric hoods over their heads.
Protests also spread to schools, with video footage shared by Kurdish rights group Hengaw showing schoolgirls demonstrating in two cities in Amini’s native Kurdistan Province.
“Women, life, freedom,” the young female protesters chanted as they marched down the central strip of a busy highway in Marivan.
Iran on Tuesday accused the US of “hypocrisy” in invoking human rights to impose fresh punitive measures.
In his first public comments on Amini’s death, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday accused the US and Israel of fomenting the protests.
The riots “were engineered by America and the occupying, false Zionist regime, as well as their paid agents, with the help of some traitorous Iranians abroad,” Khamenei said.
The unrest has overshadowed diplomatic efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.
The White House said that the “problems with Iran’s behavior” are separate from efforts to revive the nuclear deal, which it would pursue as long as it is in US national security interests.
Borrell’s announcement that the EU was considering sanctions came after France said it was pushing the bloc to “target senior officials” with punitive measures, including “freezing their assets and their right to travel.”
Iran has repeatedly accused outside forces of stoking the protests and last week said that nine foreign nationals — including from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland — had been arrested.
On Tuesday, an official said that singer Shervin Hajipour had been released on bail.
Hajipour was arrested after his song Baraye (For), with lyrics taken from social media posts about the reasons people were protesting, went viral.
Meanwhile, BBC Persian and Iran Wire reported that authorities had taken possession of the body of a teenager killed in the unrest and secretly buried her on Monday to avoid a funeral that could spark more protests.
Nika Shahkarami went missing on Sept. 20 after heading out to join a protest in Tehran and her family had been due to bury her in the western city of Khorramabad on what would have been her 17th birthday, her aunt Atash Shahkarami wrote on social media.
At least 92 protesters have been killed so far in the unrest, said Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights, which has been working to assess the death toll despite Internet outages, and blocks on WhatsApp, Instagram and other online services.
Amnesty International has confirmed 53 deaths, while Iran’s Fars news agency put the death toll at “around 60” last week.
At least 12 members of the security forces have been reported killed since Sept. 16.
Another 63 people were killed last week when security forces “bloodily suppressed” a protest in Zahedan, near Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan, Iran Human Rights said, raising its toll from 41.
The clashes erupted after Friday prayers during protests sparked by accusations that a police chief in the region had raped a teenage girl of the Baluch Sunni minority, the group said.
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