Iranians from across Europe gathered in Strasbourg in northeastern France to urge the European Union to list the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
Social media videos show numerous groups of Iranians from different countries who traveled to the headquarters of the European Parliament in the city that has a plenary session to debate the listing of the iRGC in a call already supported by at least 100 members of the body. The Parliament is composed of over 700 members.
Busloads of people from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark as well as several buses form the German cities of Hamburg, Frankfurt and Berlin departed early in the morning to arrive in time for the demonstration, chanting slogans against the IRGC along the way.
A group of Iranians heading to Strasbourg for the rally
An underground alliance of protester groups in Iran also welcomed and supported diaspora’s initiative. They have prepared posters and flyers to be distributed among the participants. “We wish to declare our full support for listing [the IRGC] as a terrorist organization by the international community,” United Youth of Iran, an underground alliance of revolutionary youth groups from various Iranian cities, said in a statement sent to Iran International. The group has criticized the IRGC’s suppression of protests in Iran, 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 nothing but pain, death and corruption to the Middle East and the world,” the statement added.
Expressing support for the rally in Strasbourg, the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims, which was shot down by the IRGC with two surface-to-air missiles as it was taking off from Tehran on January 8, 2020, said it has routinely demanded listing the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist entity. Emphasizing that “the acts of terrorism committed by the IRGC are countless,” the Association said in a statement that “Today, with the people of Iran making their voices heard loud and clear in the Woman, Life, Freedom revolution, it is time that Europe recognize and declare the true terrorist nature of the IRGC.”
In a joint message, prominent opponents of the Islamic Republic have also urged the international community to list Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terror group. In a tweet published 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 for the international community is clear: put the IRGC on the terrorist list.”
According to some of the participants, time for appeasement of the Islamic Republic has come to an end, and now it is time for action against “the terrorist group” that is the key force to suppress the protesters in Iran and destabilize the region.
During the past few weeks, a hashtag in support of the punitive measure against the IRGC -- #IRGCterrorists -- has been retweeted more than 13 million times by Iranians and foreigners alike. Some social media users have urged Syrians, whose country has been a playground for the IRGC, and Ukrainians whose Russian enemy uses the Iranian-made drones against them, to join the rally and support their cause.
The European Parliament cannot decide to designate the IRGC because the terrorists list is not a list decided by the Parliament itself but by the EU Council, comprised of ministers of each EU country. The members of the parliament are set to vote on a resolution about Iran that would call for the designation of the outfit. The resolution is on the agenda for Thursday and not for the Monday session.
If the resolution garners enough support, it is then upon the national governments of the EU member states to make the final decision. The listing of the IRGC must have a unanimous vote by all 27 EU members in the EU Council.
Members of the UK House of Commons on January 12 unanimously voted for a motion urging the UK government to proscribe the IRGC by listing it as a terrorist organization. Moreover, more than 60 French senators have officially requested that the EU close Iranian banks in Europe and ban the passage of Iran Air planes from European skies, as well as abandon the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) completely.
Unlike the United States which in 2019 under President Donald Trump put the IRGC on its Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list, European countries avoided the designation in the past few years and prioritized diplomacy with the Islamic Republic in the hope of concluding a nuclear deal.
Many politicians in France, Germany, and other European countries have been keen to pursue the IRGC’s designation by the EU and say that it has been long overdue.
Alireza Akhondi, a Swedish-Iranian member of the Swedish parliament who has been campaigning for the EU designation, said last week that listing the IRGC should be followed by tracing the organization’s money and blocking its money-laundering channels to weaken it. “Let’s rally together, united, and with a common mind to label IRGC as a terrorist organization. Sanctioning criminals is not enough! We need a resolution! Let's make the world a safer place to live in!” he said.
Talks in Vienna to revive the deal, officially known as the JCPOA came to an abrupt stop in March 2022, reportedly for Iran’s insistence that the IRGC be removed from the US FTO list. Later talks elsewhere failed to bring about an agreement.
News that Iran is supplying Russia with kamikaze drones also angered the West and added to the antagonism against Tehran.
So far over 500 protesters have been killed by security forces, mainly consisting of the IRGC and its Basij militia. Four protesters have been executed so far by the state after hasty trials devoid of any regard for due process. Others are on death row.