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Sweden supports the Iranian people’s demand for human rights


Sweden and the rest of the EU have expressed clear support for the Iranian people, especially women and girls, who are peacefully demonstrating for their human rights. Sweden has individually, and together with the other EU Member States, condemned the violence that the Iranian authorities have used against demonstrators. Sweden has also called for those responsible for the death of Mahsa Jina Amini to be held accountable. Moreover, the EU has repeatedly imposed tougher sanctions against responsible individuals and entities, and the UN Human Rights Council has held a special session in response to the violence and human rights violations.

The last months have seen the Iranian authorities repeatedly use violence against peaceful demonstrators. According to human rights organisations, around 450 people have been killed, many more injured and more than 18 000 arrested. Several people have been executed for their involvement in the protests, which Sweden and the EU have condemned in the strongest possible terms. Sweden and other EU Member States are always opposed to the death penalty, at all times and under all circumstances.

At a meeting on 15 December 2022, the European Council discussed a coordinated approach of summoning Iranian ambassadors. Sweden acted early and summoned the Iranian Ambassador in Stockholm in late December to convey Sweden and the EU’s clear condemnation of the death sentences and executions connected to the protests.

Sweden and the EU call for an investigation and accountability

The Government takes a very serious view of the situation, as it has repeatedly communicated to Iranian representatives at various levels, including in ministerial talks. The Embassy of Iran in Stockholm and the Embassy of Sweden in Tehran are important channels for conveying Sweden’s views on developments in Iran and for continuing to safeguard Swedish interests. In its talks with the Iranian Ambassador, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has raised a number of issues, including the ongoing developments in Iran.

The 27 EU Member States have also jointly called for accountability and for a credible investigation into the death of Mahsa Jina Amini and the lethal violence against demonstrators.

EU foreign ministers have regularly addressed the serious developments in Iran in the Foreign Affairs Council, most recently on 20 February. There was a more extensive, special discussion when they met in December 2022. This was because Sweden, with the support of other Member States, had pushed for this issue to be added to the agenda. New Council conclusions on Iran were adopted at the December meeting, clearly reconfirming and updating the EU policy on Iran and view of the situation

“The messages carry more weight when the Member States act in unison. We believe that the EU is the most effective platform for this work, and we are a driving force behind the condemnation of Iran and the sanctions,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström.

Sweden holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU during the first half of 2023. During the Presidency, the Government is working to support a strong, coherent and forward-looking EU line on Iran.

Sanctions against Iran

Since 2011, the EU has had sanctions in place against Iran in response to human rights violations. In light of the new sanctions decisions in October, November and December 2022, and in January and February 2023, the EU has continuously introduced further sanctions in response to events in recent months. The sanctions target persons and institutions that are responsible for the violence against demonstrators, including senior politicians and officials, members of the police, the security forces and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Sweden has actively supported this process. The sanctions include an EU travel ban and the freezing of assets. Together with the other Member States, Sweden is continuously reviewing the available tools with which to respond to further developments in Iran, including possible further sanctions.

Special session of the Human Rights Council

On 24 November 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council held a special session focusing on the need for accountability for the violence and human rights violations in Iran. Sweden supported this demand for accountability. At the special session, the Council decided to establish an independent fact-finding mission to investigate Iran’s response to the protests.

During this session, Sweden, together with the other Nordic countries and the Baltic countries, expressed its strong support for this fact-finding mission.