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Iranian Wrestler Navid Afkari Inspires a Generation One Year After Execution

12 Sep 21
Iranian Wrestler Navid Afkari Inspires a Generation One Year After Execution

Iran Human Rights (IHR); September 12, 2021: A year has passed since protester and wrestler, Navid Afkari was executed after being denied due process, tortured to make false confessions, and subjected to a grossly unfair trial. Iran Human Rights considered his execution to be unlawful and a criminal act, and called for action beyond just condemnations by the international community.

A year on, Iran Human Rights reiterates its call on the international community to hold the perpetrators of Navid Afkari’s state murder accountable. The perpetrators include Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Ebrahim Raeisi, then Head of Judiciary and current President; the judges in his case; as well as the interrogators who tortured him and prison officials.

IHR Director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “They executed Navid to instil fear in society in order to prevent further protests, not realising that he would become the people’s champion and that his voice would be heard across Iran and the world; that the brave actions of the Afkari family would make his execution one of the most costly in the Islamic Republic’s history. A year on, Navid’s name is synonymous with bravery and freedom-seeking, and has inspired a new generation of young Iranians seeking freedom and justice.”

Iran Human Rights condemns the continuous harassment of the Afkari family which has intensified in the run-up to his anniversary in order to prevent all gatherings, and the arrest of Saeed Afkari who was violently arrested this morning and released hours later.

IHR also considers Vahid and Habib Afkari’s year-long detention in solitary confinement to amount to torture and their threat of execution, hostage taking in order to prevent the truth being revealed, and calls for their immediate release.

Navid Afkari was a 27 year-old plasterer and wrestler who had won medals in national competitions. He was arrested along with his two brothers, Vahid and Habib, a month and a half after taking part in the August 2018 protests in Shiraz and charged for the murder of a security guard at a government building who, according to case documents, was tasked with identifying protesters. He was sentenced to death for the same case by Branch One of the Revolutionary Court on charges of moharebeh and sentenced to qisas by Branch One of the Criminal Court of Fars Province, amongst other charges. IHR published the court documents and the breaches against Navid and his brothers at every stage of their detention and legal proceedings. Their lawyer of choice resigned after being threatened by judicial authorities and replaced by appointed lawyers. 

In recordings of his trial published by IHR, Navid can be heard defending himself and demanding to see the CCTV footage used as evidence against him. The brothers said they had been tortured and coerced through threats against their family to force them into confessing to what they called lies. IHR refuted the judiciary’s claims after the court documents and evidence were released again on 1 September. Navid was transferred to the punitive solitary confinement ward on 3 September and his brothers on 5 September, and his relatives told IHR that Navid had been beaten during his transfer. Meanwhile, a mass international campaign was taking place with sports federations, personalities, politicians and celebrities alike joining in to try and save his life. Navid Afkari was executed at Shiraz Central Prison on 12 September 2020. 

On the anniversary of Navid’s state murder, his voice and protests are being echoed across Iran. Iran Human Rights calls on the international community to listen to this voice and to support Iranian civil society in their efforts.