MEK Iran – International Athletic Community: ‘Please Save Navid’s Life’
The international sports community has rallied behind Iranian wrestling champion Navid Afkari in a last-ditch move to spare him from execution. The Olympic athlete’s sentence has been roundly condemned by human rights organizations and public figures as well.
On Tuesday, Brendan Schwab, Executive Director of the World Players Association, emphasized the gravity of the situation. “We really are at one minute to midnight. Navid [Afkari] has been singled out, tortured, and condemned to death because of his participation and success in sport.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) September 2, 2020
“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 added.
Trial and Torture
Navid and his brothers Vahid and Habib Afkari were arrested for participating in protests in Fars Province in August 2018. The three men were charged with insulting regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, encouraging locals to join anti-regime protests, organizing a group, participating in protests, along with other charges. Navid was accused, without evidence, of the murder of a sanitation official that occurred around the same time as the protests. This is a common tactic employed by the regime to obtain convictions against peaceful protesters.
Navid Afkari was sentenced to double executions, prison, and lashings. His brothers were sentenced to a combined 81 years in prison and lashes. The MEK has previously reported on Afkari’s unjust sentence and condemnation from human rights groups.
The three brothers endured torture at the hands of regime authorities. Navid Afkari described some of this abuse in a letter:
Reporting by PMOI/MEKIran, September 2, 2020—There is a wave of protests and criticism from inside Iran and across the…
“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,” he wrote.
Support from the International Community
Athletes from around the world have condemned Afkari’s sentence and called for the regime to halt his execution. In Instagram posts, German sports champions Aline Rotter-Focken and Frank Stäbler urged the global athletic community to join together to stop the execution. “The world wrestling community and the athletic community across the globe support Navid Afkari. We fight to bring about justice for Navid.” Stäbler wrote.
Iran sports champs write a letter to save the life of protesting wrestler https://t.co/KkHJ8b6O2O via @StopFundamentalism
— StopFundamentalism (@SFundamentalism) September 3, 2020
“The wrestling community has a responsibility to get involved. Please save Navid’s life,” Rotter-Focken wrote.
On September 1, a group of 48 Iranian athletes wrote a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, and President of the Human Rights Council asking them to take immediate action 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 National Council of Resistance of Iran (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.
48 of #Iran’s sports champions call to halt the execution of #NavidAfkari.
Hassan Nayeb Agha, a member of the #NCRI & a former member of Iran’s national football team during the 1978 World Cup, campaigning to #SaveNavidAfkari.
— Arash (@arashcaviani) September 5, 2020
Hassan Nayeb Agha, a member of Iran’s national football team during the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, condemned Afkari’s sentence in a September 2 interview broadcast on Iranian opposition TV network Iran National Television (INTV).
“No regime in history has executed, tortured, and imprisoned so many national champions,” he said.
“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 added.
“The regime’s vicious crimes against sports champions have 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 Iran).
The vicious tortures inflicted on #NavidAfkari and his brothers are outrageous. I call on everyone to rise in support of Afkari brothers and convey their voice throughout #Iran and the world. #SaveNavidAfkari
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) September 1, 2020
“The accounts of tortures of Navid Afkari 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.”
The MEK strongly condemns the execution sentence of Navid Afkari and calls on the international community to take urgent action to halt his execution.
Global Athlete demands that the head of Iranian Judiciary and the Iranian Supreme Leader immediately halt plans for the execution of wrestling athlete Navid Afkari scheduled for Wednesday 9 September 2020 #SaveNavidAfkari pic.twitter.com/QGFMIoy0VW
— Global Athlete (@GlobalAthleteHQ) September 8, 2020