European Parliament members want IRGC on terrorist group list

Politicians say they are appalled by executions of protesters

Members of the European Parliament on Tuesday in Strasbourg, eastern France. AP
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Members of the European Parliament on Tuesday called on the EU to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation.

They expressed horror over recent executions of protestors who took part in massive protests challenging the Iranian government.

“As long as Revolutionary Guards terrorise their own people and the entire region, we should treat them as terrorists and put them on the sanctions list,” said MEP Hannah Neumann, a German politician from the Greens party, in Strasburg.

The EU is reportedly preparing to designate the IRGC as a terrorist group in co-ordination with the UK.

A dual Iranian-British national, Ali Reza Akbari, was hanged last week for spying for British intelligence, a charge his family rejects.

Ms Neumann was one of many MEPs to call for the EU to list the IRGC amid deteriorating relations between the continent and Tehran.

Iran has been gripped with protests since September, after the death in custody of Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, 22.

“Time is now to consign the brutal regime of Iran to dustbins of history,” said MEP Evin Incir, a Swedish politician of Kurdish descent.

“Words of the international community are not enough any more, though. "Actions are crucial.

"If we want to stop delaying the moment of freedom, the EU must designate the IRGC as a terrorist organisation.”

MEP Tonino Picula, from the socialists and democrats’ group, issued a similar call, saying: “Our message to the regime needs to be loud and clear: stop killing your people.”

“The Iranian regime is brutal, cynical and barbaric,” said Mr Picula, a Croatian politician.

Politicians debated topics, including Iran, as thousands of members of the Iranian diaspora from all over Europe demonstrated in the streets of Strasburg to increase pressure on the EU to list the IRGC as a terror group during a non-binding resolution vote on Iran on Thursday.

Police said about 12,000 people took part in the demonstration in the eastern French city.

Activists accuse the Revolutionary Guard of playing a key role in the crackdown on the protests which according to rights groups has killed hundreds.

Ms Neumann criticised the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, for denouncing the recent execution of four protesters, while also meeting Iran’s Foreign Affairs Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Jordan on December 20 and trying to revive a defunct nuclear agreement.

“The EU should not be the ones stabilising a regime while its own people fight for its downfall,” she said.

More than 100 MEPs wrote to Mr Borrell last week calling on the bloc to designate the IRGC “in its entirety as a terrorist organisation".

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, who attended the session in place of Mr Borrell, said that the debate showed that the Commission and Parliament shared the same concerns with regards to human rights’ violations in Iran.

“The Council will consider all options at its disposal including new restrictive measures related to the IRGC,” Mr Reynders said.

Since protests started, the EU has issued several rounds of sanctions against Iranian entities and people, including members of the IRGC, but has stopped short of listing the entire organisation.

The IRGC was formed after Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979 and has become a major military economic force in the country.

It was designated a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in 2019.

Updated: January 18, 2023, 8:23 AM