Thousands of Iranians marched in London to 10 Dawning Street Saturday to ask the UK to proscribe Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.
The protest rally was attended by activist Vahid Beheshti who has been on a hunger strike in London since February 23 outside the UK Foreign Office to raise awareness for the need to designate the IRGC.
In a speech, the 45-year-old Beheshti encouraged the Iranian opposition to foster solidarity. “They managed to strike us with dynamite in the past four months but let’s resume [our unity] from here, from London,” he said referring to the recent disputes among opposition groups and figures.
Activist Hamed Esmaeilion who resigned from the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy in Iranlast week also attended the rally and, in a speech, accused the IRGC of destroying Iran’s economy, environment and the future of all Iranians.
“Stop denying the truth. This evil entity should not have a place in the future of Iran,” he told western governments, including Britain and the European Union that have been cautious to designate the IRGC for fear of further alienating the regime and in turn harm the prospects of negotiations over its nuclear program.
Esmaeilion also urged Beheshti who is now on day 66 of his hunger strike and in a wheelchair to end his action.
Also attending the rally was Alireza Akhondi, a Swedish-Iranian member of the Swedish Parliament who organized a large protest rally in Strasbourg, France, in January to encourage the European Parliament to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
“IRGC’s revolting crimes are evident. It should be put on the list of terrorist groups the same as Da’ish and the Hezbollah of Lebanon,” Shahran Tabari, an Iranian-British journalist, a member of the Labour Party, and an expert on Iran-UK relationship, told the participants in the rally while stressing that the UK’s recent sanctions against the IRGC were “good but insufficient.”
Protesters chanted slogans such as “IRGC is terrorist”, “Down with the child killing regime” and “Down with the Islamic Republic.”
Several other Iranians have joined Beheshti’s protest action in the past weeks and set up their tents for a sit-in in front of the Foreign Office building.
Beheshti met with Tariq Ahmad, Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, at the Foreign Office earlier this week and later said they had discussed the UK’s sanctioning of four more IRGC commanders and the importance of proscribing the IRGC as a terrorist organization.
He had also met with the Minister of State for Security, Tom Tugendhat in March and been visited by MPs including Lord Stuart Polak at his tent.
“The Iranian regime is a dead horse. The UK government must not make a bet on a dead horse and should stand beside the people of Iran,” Beheshti’s wife, Coventry city councillor Mattie Heaven, told the rally.
British-Iranian comedian Omid Jalili also spoke at the rally, demanding the IRGC’s designation by the UK government. “The world will then follow suit,” he said.
Several other gatherings were simultaneously held in other European cities Saturday against the Islamic Republic including in Frankfurt, Germany, where Iranian monarchists gathered together upon a call by Iran's exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi and chanted slogans in his support.