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Berlin vows support for Iranian people on Amini anniversary

September 16, 2023

Jina Mahsa Amini died in the custody of Iran's morality police, sparking huge anti-government protests. One year later, Germany's foreign minister said Berlin won't "leave the people of Iran on their own."

A woman holds her arm up in protest as a fire burns on a road
The death of Jina Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022, led to an uprising against the Iranian governmentImage: dpa/AP/picture alliance

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has pledged Berlin's solidarity with the people of Iran on the eve of the first anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old Kurdish woman was detained by Iran's morality police and accused of wearing her hijab improperly. Her death in custody on September 16, 2022, triggered some of the biggest protests against the Iranian regime in years with protesters chanting, "Women. Life. Freedom." The security forces responded with a violent crackdown.

"Even if the protests have disappeared from the headlines, we will not leave the people of Iran on their own," Baerbock said. "We will place the fate of the people in Iran on the agenda in Brussels, New York and Geneva."

The German foreign minister said the EU had sanctioned Iranian officials, and that the UN was documenting human rights violations so that those responsible could be brought to justice.

According to rights groups, more than 500 people have died in the crackdown on protesters in Iran, while thousands have been arrested.

Annalena Baerbock
Annalena Baerbock said women protesting in Iran had made an impact beyond their country and were a symbol of courageImage: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

"As much as it breaks our hearts, we will be unable to change conditions in Iran from outside, but we will not hold back from giving the people in Iran a voice," Baerbock said.

New sanctions announced

The EU on Friday added four Iranian officials, including a commander in the Revolutionary Guard, to its sanctions blacklist. The bloc has already imposed visa bans and asset freezes on around 170 Iranians, companies and agencies for their role in the repression.

Four prisons, a news agency associated with the Revolutionary Guard and the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, which monitors the internet, were also placed on the blacklist. 

In a statement, EU member states said they "reaffirm their strong support for the fundamental rights of Iranian women and men and their aspirations."

Iran: Why women keep on fighting for freedom

Britain, the US, Canada and Australia also announced new sanctions against Iranian officials on Friday.

US President Joe Biden said the measures aimed to punish "some of Iran's most egregious human rights abusers."

The new US sanctions target more than two dozen individuals and entities connected to Iran's crackdown on protests.

"Iranians alone will determine the fate of their country, but, the United States remains committed to standing with them," Biden said in a statement.

The government in Tehran accuses the United States and Israel of fueling the unrest in order to destabilize Iran.

While Baerbock said the sanctions are "the direct consequences of the serious and continued Iranian violations," Germany's top diplomat left the door open to diplomacy, saying we remain "open to a diplomatic solution."

Protests planned around the world

Meanwhile, in Iran, security forces readied for renewed unrest on the anniversary of Amini's death.

Rights activists cited by the Reuters news agency said there was a heavy security presence in Amini's hometown in the western province of Kurdistan.

Members of the security forces standing in the street in Iran
Social media posts suggest a heightened security presence in several Kurdish cities in the days before September 16Image: privat

A statement from the Norway-based human rights group Hengaw said several Kurdish cities "have experienced an atmosphere of intimidation and the declaration of a state of war in recent days." 

Protests were also planned elsewhere. Thousands of demonstrators marched through the streets of Brussels on Friday. Many were holding pictures of Amini and others killed in the crackdown on protests.

Demonstrations were also planned in cities across Germany over the weekend.

kb,nm/sms (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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