Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, September 9, 2020—The imminent execution of a wrestling champion on charges of participating in peaceful protests in Iran is drawing more condemnation from the international community.
“We really are at one minute to midnight,” Brendan Schwab, executive director of the World Players Association, which represents 85,000 professional athletes, said on Tuesday.
“Navid [Afkari] has been singled out, tortured and condemned to death because of his participation and success in sport,” Schwab said.
“The horrific act of executing an athlete can only be regarded as a repudiation of the humanitarian values that underpin sport. “It must result in Iran forfeiting its right to be a part of sport's universal community," Schwab continued.
Two German sports champions, Aline Rotter-Focken and Frank Stäbler, also called on athletes around the world to support Navid Afkari.
"The world wrestling community and the athletic community across the globe support Navid Afkari. We fight to bring about justice for Navid.” Frank Stäbler posted on his Instagram account.
“The wrestling community has a responsibility to get involved. Please save Navid's life,” said Aline Rotter-Focken.
The Iranian regime’s judiciary has sentenced Afkari, who hails from Shiraz, south-central Iran, to double execution sentences, prison, and lashing. Two of his brothers are sentenced to overall 81 years of prison and lashing over protests back in 2018. Navid, Vahid, and Habib Afkari Sangari were arrested for participating in protests that broke out across Fars province in August 2018.
The three brothers were tried in the Shiraz Criminal Court and the Revolutionary Court, facing charges of insulting regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, encouraging locals to join anti-regime protests, organizing a group, and participating in protests, among other allegations, according to various reports.
Since their arrests, the Afkari brothers have been exposed to brutal tortures by regime authorities. In a letter, Navid Afkari described the horrific physical and psychological tortures inflicted on him by the regime’s authorities.
“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. They also poured alcohol into my nose,” the letter reads.
The mullahs’ religious fascist regime handed down outrageous flogging, prison and death sentences for three brothers for took part in the protests in Kazerun and Shiraz. #StopExecutionsInIran— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) August 28, 2020
The accounts of tortures of #NavidAfkari and his brothers, and the double execution and long prison sentences for them have shocked and outraged not only the people of #Iran but the entire world. #SaveNavidAfkari— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) September 5, 2020
On September 1, 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.
“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.
Freedom fighter and former soccer player Craig Foster has also thrown his support behind the movement.
“Membership of the international sporting community must come with basic obligations. Torturing and putting to death an athlete for exercising their human rights is surely the most egregious transgression of the principles of sport, which are said to correspond with those of humanity,” Foster said.
“Iran should be immediately threatened with expulsion from international sports to send a clear message that an athlete‘s social standing and community trust is not a political tool to be used or abused under any circumstances and that a basic requirement of participation in international sport is to uphold the human rights of all involved.”
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
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.
Hearing that Iran is looking to execute a great and popular wrestling star, 27-year-old Navid Afkarai, whose sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets. They were protesting the “country’s worsening economic situation and inflation”...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2020
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
The U.S. State Department posted two tweets condemning the death sentence issued for this young Iranian athlete by the so-called judiciary of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
“Navid Afkari is a young man that is struggling for the pride that Khamenei’s regime has long deprived the Iranian people of. Khamenei’s thugs have tortured Navid to such an extent in order to obtain coerced confessions from him. Not satisfied with their effort in destroying Navid’s dignity, now they have sentenced him to death,” the tweet reads in Persian.
The Iranian regime executes political prisoners and protesters to intimidate the population and prevent future protests.