Iranian protesters in the Belgian capital Brussels on March 23,2023

Large Crowd In Brussels Renews Call On EU To Designate IRGC

Thursday, 03/23/2023

A large crowd of Iranian expatriates held a big rally in Brussels to once again urge the EU countries to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.

The Belgian capital hosted the European foreign ministers at the Council of Europe on Thursday, a good opportunity for Iranian activists who want European countries to designate the IRGC as a first step, followed by the expulsion of the Islamic Republic’s envoys, towards the fall of the regime. 

Several European politicians, including Danial Ilkhanipour and Alireza Akhondi, were among the speakers of the events that were held during the demonstrations. 

Ilkhanipour, a German-Iranian member of the Hamburg city parliament, told the crowd that in the past few months, Iranians have shown they can achieve what they want if they unite, referring to several rounds of sanctions by EU and a resolution by the European Parliament asking the EU to list the IRGC as a terrorist entity for its role in the repression of popular protests and the supply of drones to Russia.

The poster for the gathering of Iranians in Brussels

Akhondi, a Swedish-Iranian member of the Swedish Parliament, said that “The Islamic Republic has killed people in Europe and kidnapped people such as Iranian-German national Jamshid Sharmahd,” who faces a death sentence in Iran on charge of "corruption on earth". Sharmahd, who is also a US resident, is held by Tehran for allegedly heading a pro-monarchist group accused of a deadly 2008 bombing and planning other attacks in the country. Akhondi claimed that a large number of agents of the Islamic Republic are here in Brussels. 

Vahid Beheshti, the British-Iranian activist who is on hunger strike outside the UK Foreign Office for the same cause, also sent a video message to the gathering, telling the European foreign ministers that as Lebanon’s Hezbollah is blacklisted as a terror group, Iran’s Guards should also be designated.

Most of the speakers of the event asked EU members how they can ignore such a large amount of evidence on human rights violations and terrorist acts perpetrated by the IRGC. 

Earlier in the day, the block's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted that “Ukraine has been attacked again by Russia with Iranian drones, targeting educational facilities and a missile attack on a residential building in Zaporizhzhia. Just when Putin expressed need for peaceful settlement to President Xi, Russian again commits war crimes.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (L) with Iran's Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran in June 2022

In January, Borrell said that the European Union cannot list the IRGC as a terrorist entity until an European court has determined that they are, noting "Ministers adopted a new package of sanctions against Iran, targeting those driving the repression.” “The EU strongly condemns the brutal and disproportionate use of force by the Iranian authorities against peaceful protesters," he said but no action was taken to designate the IRGC. 

The IRGC was set up shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution to protect the Shiite clerical ruling establishment and provide a counterweight to the regular armed forces. It has an estimated 125,000-strong military with army, navy and air units. It also commands the Basij religious militia, a volunteer paramilitary force loyal to the clerical establishment which is often used to crack down on anti-government protests.

There have been numerous Iranian terror acts in Europe, where courts have indicted top officials. In addition, IRGC’s record in organizing attacks elsewhere are well-documented. Critics say that Borrell and many of the European diplomats are focused on re-starting nuclear talks with Iran after the previous long round of negotiations in 2021-2022 ended last September without success.

The current round of antiregime protests engulfed the country in September when 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini was on a trip to capital Tehran where she was beaten to death by the ‘morality police’ for “improper hijab.” 

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