The European Union (EU) imposed sanctions on eight Iranian militia officers and police chiefs over a deadly crackdown of protests in November 2019 by the Islamic Republic.
Hossein Salami, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was amongst those who were sanctioned.
“Hossein Salami took part in the sessions that resulted in the orders to use lethal force to suppress the November 2019 protests. Hossein Salami therefore bears responsibility for serious human rights violations in Iran,” the EU said.
Three Iranian prisons also had their assests frozen by the EU for deliberately wounding detainees, who took part in the 2019 protests, with boiling water and for denying them medical treatment.
Iran has responded to the sanctions by declaring that it would cease to cooperate with the EU on issues of human rights, terrorism, drugs and refugees.
A report by Javaid Rehman, a UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, released earlier this year, faulted Iran for failing to conduct a thorough investigation into the crackdown and to bring those responsible for it to justice.
"Evidence confirms security forces used firearms in a manner that amounted to a serious violation of international human rights law, resulting in the deaths of at least 304 people, including women and children. Impunity for those actions and a lack of accountability prevail," the report notes.
A rise in the prices of oil sparked demonstrations across the country in late 2019 which the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the most powerful security force in the country, decided to suppress with brutal force.
The sanctions came just as American and Iranian representatives were negotiating a return to the Iran Nuclear Deal (officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA), that the previous Trump administration pulled out of.
A European diplomat told AFP that the sanctions had been in consideration for a long time and it was decided to go ahead with the move despite the nuclear negotiations being underway.