STRASBOURG, France -- Thousands of members of the Iranian diaspora from all over Europe urged the European Union (EU) during Monday (January 16) protests to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terror group.
Pressure is growing among Iranian expatriates and activists to urge the bloc to follow the United States and blacklist the IRGC over its destructive activities.
These include its crackdown on dissent, and its targeting of dual nationals and Iranian dissidents and journalists overseas.
Some 12,000 Iranian expatriates and activists gathered Monday in Strasbourg, which hosts the EU parliament.
"We are gathering to make Iranian women and men heard in Europe and ask the European parliament to carry on standing on the right side of history," said Swedish parliament deputy Alireza Akhondi, who organised the rally.
"We will push the international community to respond forcefully ... there must be a strong, global response," European parliament speaker Roberta Metsola said.
The EU's blacklisting of the IRGC "would change things immensely, firstly economically and geopolitically", said French-Iranian student Sahar Aghakhani.
Germany also is examining how it can list it as a terrorist organisation, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in October.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is preparing to formally designate the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, British media reported early this month.
"We do not limit ourselves to the steps that I have already announced," British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Monday.
British government sources previously said "no announcement was imminent and many details remained to be sorted out", the BBC reported, adding that it was "broadly correct" to say the government intended to proscribe the IRGC.
Iran poses direct threat
British intelligence agencies have said Iran poses a direct threat to the United Kingdom, citing 10 plots against British or UK-based individuals over the last year.
The director general of the UK domestic intelligence service (MI5), Ken McCallum, has publicly accused the IRGC of plotting to kidnap and potentially kill UK-based individuals deemed to be dissidents.
The IRGC has a long history of plotting against dual citizens on foreign soil.
In July 2021, four Iranians were charged in a New York City federal court with conspiring to kidnap exiled journalist and regime critic Masih Alinejad.
The United States on November 16 blacklisted six senior officials of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), which "has broadcast hundreds of forced confessions of Iranian, dual national and international detainees in Iran".
The regime has a history of charging political activists accused of "attempting to overthrow the regime" after slapping on a "corruption on earth" charge.
The charge is a Qur'anic reference used since the 1979 Islamic Revolution to justify the killing of political prisoners.
It is similarly used for espionage charges, although not all cases of espionage have resulted in the death penalty.