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New EU Foreign Policy Chief Condemns Iran's 'Disproportionate' Use Of Force In Protests

EU's newly appointed foreign policy chief Josep Borrell attends his hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels, October 07, 2019

The newly chosen High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, says, "For the European Union and its Member States, the widespread and disproportionate use of force against nonviolent protestors (in Iran) is unacceptable."

Borrel, who succeeded Federica Mogherini on December 1, lambasted the Islamic Republic for its deadly response to widespread protests in November. This is the first such statement coming from EU’s foreign policy coordinating office. Mogherini did not issue a statement during and after the protests in November when it was clear more than 150 were killed.

The protests that broke out on November 15, soon turned into enraged demonstrations followed by the heavy-handed and lethal attacks of security forces on the protesters.

In an official statement on Sunday, December 8, Borrell deplored the Islamic Republic authorities for a disproportionate response to recent demonstrations that led to high numbers of deaths and injuries.

More than three weeks after the uprising, the Islamic Republic officials have not yet declared the exact number of people who were killed, mostly by gunfire of security forces.

Blaming Tehran for disregarding international calls to restraint, Borrell noted in his statement, "Fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and assembly must always be respected. The Iranian authorities must live up to their international obligations, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Furthermore, Borrell criticized Tehran for denying Iranians' right to have free access to the internet.

"Iran's decision to shut down internet access to global networks for over a week prevented communication and the free flow of information for Iranian citizens. This is a clear violation of the freedom of speech," Borrell said.

Meanwhile, Borrell has called upon the Islamic Republic leaders to ensure transparent and credible investigations to clarify the number of deaths and arrests, and to provide due process to all detainees."

Moreover, he has asserted that the European Union expects all perpetrators of violence to be held accountable, and in line with statements by senior Iranian officials, all nonviolent protestors currently held under arrest should be immediately freed.

"The European Union addresses all issues of concern in its bilateral exchanges with Iran, including human rights, and will continue doing so," Borrell has reminded the Islamic Republic leaders.