20 March 2023

MP in call to shut down groups linked to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

20 March 2023

Ministers have been urged to shut down organisations linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that are trying to silence UK critics.

Up to seven so-called “cut-outs” of the IRCG operating in the UK are seeking to target critics, incite hate and recruit for a “terrorist state”, according to Conservative MP Alicia Kearns.

The chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee explained a “cut-out” is an organisation that does not publicly appear to be part of a state, but is acting on their behalf.

The Government was also pressed again to add the IRGC to a list of banned terrorist organisations in the UK.

MPs earlier this year unanimously supported a non-binding motion urging the UK Government to make it a criminal offence to be a member of or invite support for the IRGC.

The UK has imposed sanctions on Iranian officials in recent months, including in response to a violent crackdown on protests against the regime.

Ms Kearns told the House of Commons: “There are three, if not seven, cut-outs of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps operating here in the UK, silencing critics of the Ayatollah, inciting hate, celebrating terrorists and recruiting for a terrorist state.

“The Government knows that this House wants the IRGC proscribed, but in the immediate please protect us from transnational repression by shutting these cut-outs of the Iranian state.”

Ms Kearns also urged Home Secretary Suella Braverman or Security minister Tom Tugendhat to meet Vahid Beheshti, who is on day 26 of a hunger strike outside the Foreign Office because he wants the IRGC banned.

She said of the journalist and human rights activist: “I am seriously concerned about his health and it would help for the Government to meet with him.”

Mr Tugendhat replied: “I would be very happy to meet with him and indeed anybody else who takes the threat of the IRGC in this country as seriously as we do.

“This is work that we’ve had ongoing for a number of months now and (Ms Kearns) will be aware that asking for actions to be taken means we must be legally compliant with the responses, and that is where we’re getting to.

“We’re increasingly at the point where we’re taking more and more action against them.”

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