Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, September 4, 2020—“For around 50 days I had to endure the most horrendous physical and psychological tortures. They would beat me with sticks and batons, hitting my arms, legs, abdomen, and back. They would place a plastic bag on my head and torture me until I suffocated to the very brink of death and poured alcohol into my nose.”
These are words of Navid Afkari, a 27-year old wrestling champion of Iran who has been sentenced to death for taking part in the August 2018 protests in Fars province. Many people across the globe have called for a halt to his execution.
The Iranian regime has a dark record of executing sports champions for their political viewpoints against the mullahs. “No regime in history has executed, tortured and imprisoned so many national champions,” said Hassan Nayeb Agha, a former member of Iran’s national football team during the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, in an interview with Iranian opposition TV network Iran National Television (INTV) on September 2.
“Many national champions who participated in the World Cup and Olympics, men and women, young and old, were executed. Therefore, when Navid Afkari’s death sentence was raised, the Iranian sports community responded by launching an international campaign,” Nayeb Agha continued.
On September 1, in an initiative by a group of Iranian athletes and sports champions, members of the Iranian opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), alongside 48 Iranian sports champions, wrote to the UN Secretary-General, the International Olympic Committee President, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and President of the Human Rights Council, calling for their urgent intervention to halt Afkari’s execution.
Mr. Moslem Eskandar Filabi, a national hero in Iran and winner of 17 national and international wrestling competitions, and Chairman of the NCRI Athletics Committee, Dr. Mohammad Ghorbani, a gold medalist in the 1971 World Wrestling Championships in 1971, and Messrs. Bahram Mavaddat, Asghar Adibi, Hassan Nayeb Agha, and Abbas Novin Rouzegar, members of Iran’s national football team and NCRI members, are among the signatories.
Navid Afkari has been sentenced to double execution, six-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, and 74 lashes for taking part in protests in the southern city of Kazerun in the summer of 2018.
His two brothers, Vahid, 35, and Habib, 29, were also sentenced to 54 years and six months, and 27 years in prison, respectively, along with 74 lashes each.
Navid Afkari, a 27-year old wrestling champion in Iran, has been sentenced to death by the genocidal regime ruling Iran.
“The regime’s vicious crimes against sports champions has a dark history,” continued Nayeb Agha, adding that Habib Khabiri, a former captain of the Iranian national football team, was arrested in 1980 and executed three years later for supporting the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Houshang Montazerolzohour, a wrestling champion during the 1976 Summer Olympics of Montreal; Forouzan Abdi, a member of Iran’s national women’s volleyball team; known football players Mahshid Razaghi and Ala Kouchali are also among those who were executed.
“This regime must be punished for these crimes and Iran’s sports community, the people and the international community should work hard to stop these executions,” Nayeb Agha emphasized.
Habib Khabiri, former captain of the Iranian National Football Team, executed on 21 June 1986 by the mullahs’ regime.
NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi has repeatedly called for a halt to all executions in Iran, emphasizing that more than ever before it is highly imperative to dispatch an international fact-finding mission to visit Iran’s prisons and meet with prisoners.
“The cries of the Afkari brothers is the cry of thousands upon thousands of political prisoners who were either martyred under torture or executed with wounded bodies,” Madam Rajavi added.
The NCRI President-elect also urged the UN Security Council, the Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner and the Human Rights Council, as well as the European Union to take immediate action to secure the release of the Afkari brothers and all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Iran.
Along with Iranian sports champions, many political figures and athletes throughout the world have raised their voice to save the life of Navid Afkari and his brothers, including U.S. President Donald Trump.
We join the world in outrage at the Iranian regime's death sentence for Navid Afkari, who was tortured into giving a false confession after participating in peaceful protests in 2018. The regime also tortured his two brothers and sentenced them to decades in prison. Let them go!— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) September 3, 2020
Iranian wrestler #NavidAfkari,who defended the rights of his people,has been sentenced to death.This is an outrage & the entire world should demand his immediate release.We continue to witness the evilness of the regime in Tehran,which continues to violate the rights of Iranians.— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) September 3, 2020
Iranian wrestler, Navid Afkari sentenced to death for peaceful protest and tortured to give false confession along with his 2 brothers— Craig Foster (@Craig_Foster) September 3, 2020
What is the sporting sanction for killing an athlete? @Olympics @FIFAcom @ICHRI @NazaninBoniadi @WorldPlayersUtd #NoDeathPenalty
Wow. Just signed. Crazy times. Help if you can 🙏 https://t.co/tfd2M9c0Rw— Julia Mancuso (@JuliaMancuso) September 3, 2020
Champion #wrestler Navid Afkari was sentenced to DEATH for participating in peaceful anti-gov’t protests, a legal #ICCPR, that Iran agreed to.— Tony Ramos 🐏 (@T_Ram133) September 2, 2020
Sign the petition & demand Iran gives Navid a stay of executionhttps://t.co/36CF8MPXod#نويد_افكارى #نويد_را_نكشيد
This is what a real authoritarian regime look like. https://t.co/HRgh1SsBUq— Bionic Ben (@Benaskren) August 30, 2020
The list of 48 Iranian sports champions that called to halt Navid Afkari’s execution are as follow:
We, the undersigned are calling on all athletes and olympians worldwide to support our call and do whatever in their capacity to help save Mr. Navid Afkari’s life. Your support will show that the people of Iran and their athletes are not alone in seeking justice and human dignity:
- Mr. Moslem Eskandar Filabi, winner of 17 medals at national and international wrestling events
- Dr. Mohammad Ghorbani, World Wrestling Champion, 1971
- Mr. Asghar Adibi, member of Iran’s national football team
- Mr. Bahram Movaddat, member of Iran’s national football team
- Mr. Hassan Nayebagha, member of Iran’s national football team
- Mr. Abbas Novin Rouzegar, member of Iran’s national football team
- Mr. Manouchehr Arastoupoor, World Canoeing silver medalist, veteran
- Ms. Golpar Parvardeh, silver medalist, European Championship
- Ms. Solmaz Abuali, US karate champion
- Ms. Firouzeh Ojagh, Iran Women’s Basketball Team member
- Ms. Neda Amani, club football player, Switzerland
- Ms. Mina Lajmir, basketball player
- Mr. Kazem Gholami, Iran, Asia and Teflis Cup Champion
- Mr. Iraj Adibzadeh, sports host, reporter and analyzer
- Mr. Mansour Bahrami, Iran, Asia and ATP ranking tennis player
- Mr. Mahmoud Sarabi, sports host and analyzer
- Mr. Mohammad Behrouzi, oficial Football Federation referee
- Mr. Saeed Ipakchi, Iran athletic champion
- Mr. Akbar Parizani, Iran fencing champion
- Mr. Mehdi Ghazal, member of Iran’s national football team
- Mr. Hossein Fadakar, member of Iran’s national football team
- Mr. Yousef Mahdavi, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Ali Sajjadi, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Majid Moshtari, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Mohammad Azadan, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Jaafar Azarmgin, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Farhad Azari, Iran club football champion
- Dr. Shahram Homayounfar, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Reza Azadi, Iran club football champion
- Dr. Hadi Nikoonezhad, Iran diving national champion
- Mr. Reza Mohammadi, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Mohammad Yousefali, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Khosro Alikhani, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Khosro Parvardeh, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Jamshid Heidari, Iran club football champion
- Mr. Mosayyeb Jalali, Iran club wrestling champion
- Mr. Bahman Abedini, Taekwando
- Mr. Majid Rahimi, Taekwando
- Mr. Sivan Barzegar, Taekwando
- Mr. Massoud Ipakchi, sports expert
- Mr. Siamak Tahooni, football player
- Mr. Saeed Saeedpour, football player
- Mr. Mohammad Darafarin, football player
- Mr. Akbar Haghighi, football player
- Mr. Javid Haghighi, football player
- Mr. Edvin Tehrani, weightlifter
- Mr. Esmail Mohades, football player
- Mr. Arash Filabi, wrestler