British-Iranian on 50th day of hunger strike outside UK Foreign Office, wants IRGC designated as terrorist group

British-Iranian on 50th day of hunger strike outside UK Foreign Office, wants IRGC designated as terrorist group
3 min read
13 April, 2023
British-Iranian Vahid Beheshti has reached his 50th day on hunger strike and vowed to continue his protest to urge the UK government to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.
Vahid Beheshti is now in a wheelchair because the hunger strike has made him too weak to stand [Getty]

A British-Iranian reached his 50th day on hunger strike outside the UK Foreign Office and vowed "he won't give up" until Westminister takes action against Iran's paramilitary forces.

Vahid Beheshti started his hunger strike on 23 February, in an attempt to persuade the UK government to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group.

The IRGC, a powerful military force with huge influence over the country, was sanctioned by the UK Foreign Office amid anti-government protests that erupted across Iran and worldwide after the alleged fatal beating of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody last September.

However, the IRGC is not considered a terror group outright because of widespread fears in Westminster that the move could provoke strong retaliation by Tehran.

"I’m still outside UK’s foreign office," said Beheshti, who now sits in a wheelchair because he is too weak to stand up. 

"I’m still here and I will go nowhere.

"I started this hunger strike with one simple demand, I asked our government 50 days ago to stand strong in front of the terrorist for our safety and security here in this country," he said in a video posted on his Twitter account. 

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When asked by the BBC why sanctioning the IRGC wasn’t enough, Beheshti said these measures "don’t have an effect on these people". 

The British-Iranian referenced specifically to the alleged targeting of Iran International, a UK-based news channel that was forced to relocate because of threats to staff by Iranian agents. 

He said this was proof the government must take firm action to protect people on its soil and stand up for values such as democracy. 

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat visited Beheshti during his hunger strike and insisted the government was doing more and more to crack down on the activities of the IRGC, reported The Guardian. 

However, the activist said after chatting with Tugendhat for 15 minutes he realised he was "speaking with the converted" and urged him to "take his message" directly to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, according to the BBC. 

Beheshti said that if he was called by the prime minister, he would find the "energy and motivation" to walk to his office and discuss his demands. 

A protest will take place on 15 April to show solidarity with Beheshti and continue to put pressure on the UK government to take action against the IRGC. 

Beheshti was arrested in Iran twice before escaping the country 24 years ago.