Iranian rally in Strasbourg calls on Europe to list IRGC as terrorist
Iranians from across Europe gathered in Strasbourg, northeastern France, to urge the European Union to list the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
Videos on social media show many groups of Iranians from different countries who traveled to the European Parliament headquarters in the city which has a plenary session to debate the registration of the iRGC in a call already supported by at least 100 members of the organization. Parliament is made up of more than 700 members.
Buses full of people from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark as well as several buses from the German cities of Hamburg, Frankfurt and Berlin left early in the morning to arrive in time for the protest, chanting slogans against the IRGC along the way.
A group of Iranians traveling to Strasbourg for the rally
An underground alliance of protesting groups in Iran has also welcomed and supported the diaspora initiative. They prepared posters and leaflets to distribute to participants. “We would like to declare our full support for the inscription [the IRGC] as a terrorist organization by the international community”, United Youth of Iran, a clandestine alliance of revolutionary youth groups from various Iranian cities, said in a statement sent to Iran International. The group criticized the IRGC’s crackdown on protests in Iran, the direct and indirect violation of human rights in other countries, including Syria and Ukraine, and economic corruption, including alleged involvement in drug and arms trafficking and money laundering by the guards. “The IRGC’s actions bring only pain, death and corruption to the Middle East and the world,” the statement added.
Expressing support for the Strasbourg rally, the Association of Families of Victims of Flight PS752, which was shot down by the IRGC with two surface-to-air missiles as it took off from Tehran on January 8, 2020, said it had regularly called for listing the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist entity. Emphasizing that “the acts of terrorism committed by the IRGC are countless”, the The association said in a statement that “Today, as the Iranian people make their voices heard loud and clear in the Woman, Life, Freedom revolution, it is time for Europe to recognize and proclaim the true terrorist nature of the IRGC”.
In a joint message, prominent opponents of the Islamic Republic also urged the international community to list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group. In a tweet posted by exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi, football legend Ali Karimi, British-Iranian actress and human rights activist Nazanin Boniadi, journalist and activist Masih Alinejad and actress Golshifteh Farahani, they said: “Our request to the international community is clear: put the IRGC on the terrorist list.”
According to some of the participants, the time for appeasement of the Islamic Republic is over and now is the time to act against “the terrorist group” which is the key force in suppressing protesters in Iran and destabilizing the region.
Over the past few weeks, a hashtag supporting the punitive measure against the IRGC — #IRGCterrorists — has been retweeted more than 13 million times by Iranians and foreigners. Some social media users urged Syrians, whose country has been a playground for the IRGC, and Ukrainians whose Russian enemy is using Iranian-made drones against them, are joining the rally and supporting their cause.
The European Parliament cannot decide to appoint the IRGC because the list of terrorists is not a list decided by the Parliament itself but by the EU Council, made up of ministers from each EU country. Members of parliament must pass a resolution on Iran which would call for the appointment of the team. The resolution is on Thursday’s agenda, not Monday’s sitting.
If the resolution garners sufficient support, then it is up to the national governments of the EU member states to take the final decision. The IRGC’s listing requires a unanimous vote of the 27 EU members in the EU Council.
Members of the UK House of Commons on January 12 unanimously passed a motion urging the British government to outlaw the IRGC by classifying it as a terrorist organization. In addition, more than 60 French senators have officially demanded the EU to close Iranian banks in Europe and to ban the passage of Iran Air planes from European skies, as well as to completely abandon the nuclear agreement known as the name Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Unlike the United States, which in 2019 under President Donald Trump put the IRGC on its Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list, European countries have avoided the designation in recent years and prioritized diplomacy with the Islamic Republic in the hope of concluding a nuclear agreement.
Many politicians in France, Germany and other European countries have been keen to pursue the EU’s designation of the IRGC and say it is long overdue.
Alireza Akhondi, a Swedish-Iranian member of the Swedish parliament who has campaigned for EU designation, said last week that the IRGC’s listing should be followed by a tracing of the organization’s money and blocking its money laundering channels to weaken it. “Let us come together, united and with a common spirit to label the IRGC as a terrorist organization. Punishing criminals is not enough! We need a resolution! Let’s make the world a safer place to live! he said.
Talks in Vienna to revive the deal, officially known as the JCPOA, abruptly stalled in March 2022, reportedly due to Iran’s insistence that the IRGC be removed from the US FTO list. Subsequent talks elsewhere did not result in an agreement.
The news that Iran is supplying Russia with suicide drones has also angered the West and added to the antagonism against Tehran.
So far, more than 500 protesters have been killed by security forces, mostly made up of the IRGC and its Basij militia. So far, four protesters have been executed by the state after hasty trials devoid of due process. Others are on death row.