On September 12, 2020, just over a year ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran displayed unparalleled agility in executing Greco-Roman wrestler Navid Afkari, merely because he had dared to protest against the conservative Islamic state’s political and economic corruption.
Now, on the first anniversary of the execution of Navid Afkari, the repressive Iranian regime has trained its guns on his family members even as they were preparing to honour his memory. Saeed, Navid’s brother, was assaulted by security forces when he arrived at Shiraz to pay tributes to his brother in his native village of Sangar, Fars province.
September 12 is the 1 year anniversary of Navid Afkari's execution in Shiraz, #Iran.— Kristin Helene (@KristinHelene) September 12, 2021
Navid Afkari's brothers Vahid & Habib were sentenced to resp. 54 years & 27 years of imprisonment. They are being subjected to torture and ill-treatment.#StopTorturingAfkaris @UNHumanRights pic.twitter.com/o4RcP8p6mK
Saeed was subsequently taken into custody by the police on trumped-up charges, several news reports said. He was accompanied by his sister, Elham, who was also subjected to assault and arrested by the police.
The action against Saeed came days after Saeed had posted a critical tweet accusing the Iranian regime of coercing his family for not holding a ceremony in remembrance of his slain brother.
“As we approach the anniversary of the death of my brother, security institutions have been pressuring our family and acquaintances to prevent us (from holding a ceremony). We have been enduring your savage oppression for three years, and while we still mourn, we will stand against you,” Saeed had defiantly tweeted.
The ceremony was scheduled to take place on September 13, 2021. But action against Afkari’s family suggests Iran remains incredibly wary of the domestic churning that the ceremony could touch off and mobilise people around Afkari’s killing and the first anniversary of his execution. Last year, outrage swept across the world, bringing the Islamic Republic of Iran under the spotlight for using oppression as a tool to exact obedience after Afkari was sentenced to death over the alleged murder of a security guard during anti-government protests in 2018.
It was then widely reported that the Iranian regime inflicted horrifying torture on Mr Afkari and hustled him into confessing crimes he did not commit, in a bid to justify his execution and undercut the groundswell of opposition building around his death sentence.
There is not one shred of evidence in this damned case that shows I’m guilty,” #NavidAfkari said, adding that his judges were simply “looking for a neck for their rope(link is external).”#StopTorturingAfkaris pic.twitter.com/E0qKgoeCOO— H. Khosravi (@youmolghiyamah) September 12, 2021
On Saturday last week, a new video of Navid Afkari confessing to the murder of a water company security guard, for which he was subsequently executed, was released by Fars News, a channel affiliated to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The aim was to deflect the criticism that Afkari was a victim of state oppression. But, the Afkari family, their lawyer and human rights defenders, as well as Afkari himself during his trial said that the confession was taken under duress.
Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari executed over alleged murder during anti-government protests
Afkari was sentenced to death for allegedly murdering a security guard during the anti-government protest in Iran in 2018. The verdict sparked a massive furore across the world, with widespread protests by human rights organisations, sports federations, and athletes around the world to revoke his death sentence.
The then United States President Donald Trump too had implored Iran to overturn the wrestler’s death sentence and grant him clemency. “To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s life, and not execute him,” Trump had tweeted days before Afkari was executed.
According to a recently published report in the Jerusalem Post, the Intelligence agents from Iran were worried about the growing popularity of the wrestler and therefore, they had no other option but to execute the wrestler, lest he sparks a revolution that would endanger Iranian’s conservative regime.
Along with Afkari, his two brothers, Habib and Vahid, were also arrested. They have been incarcerated in the Adel Abad prison of Shiraz and held in solitary confinement since Navid’s execution.