Former world leaders want West to brand Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists
23 May 2023
More than 100 former presidents and prime ministers are calling on Europe, the UK, Canada and the US to consider and sanction Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. "Decades of apparent silence and inaction by the international community have contributed to a culture of impunity in Iran," they say in an open letter.
On Monday, the EU imposed new sanctions against a major source of revenue for the IRGC, a shadow army that controls key parts of Iran's economy. Former world leaders from 45 countries are now calling on the international community to go further and "hold the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran accountable for their crimes".
"We encourage you to stand in solidarity with the people of Iran in their desire for a secular and democratic republic," their letter states. It denounces Iran's crackdown on the popular uprising and condemns the regime's interference in the Middle East and Europe, including the supply of drones to support Russia's war against Ukraine.
European signatories include former prime ministers of the UK, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Ukraine. It was also signed by Belgian politicians Guy Verhofstadt and Yves Leterme. The situation in Iran is of particular importance to Belgium since the unjust imprisonment of NGO worker Olivier Vandecasteele last year.
Iran is believed to be seeking an exchange between Vandecasteele and the Iranian terrorist Assadollah Assadi. Belgium negotiated a treaty with Iran to facilitate the exchange of prisoners last year. Belgium's Constitutional Court first suspended the treaty, but later overturned that decision.
"Decades of apparent silence and inaction by the international community have contributed to a culture of impunity in Iran"
However, Belgium is hoping Iran will release Vandecasteele unconditionally as it did with two French prisoners recently. They were released due to their poor health, and there was "no quid pro quo", said French Foreign minister Catherine Colonna.
Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi © ATTA KENARE / AFP