Iranian Wrestler Navid Afkari Executed on Account of Forced Confession
Last updated on September 16th, 2020
Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari has been executed in Iran despite several outcries from human rights organizations and international powers. Afkari had been accused of murdering a security guard during the anti-government protests in Iran in 2018.
Amnesty International called Afkari’s execution as a “travesty of justice”. Prior to his execution, Navid Afkari said that he was tortured to make a false confession. In a recording with the human rights organisation, Afkari can be heard saying, “If I am executed, I want you to know that an innocent person, even though he tried and fought with all his strength to be heard, was executed.”
The Iranian wrestler was hanged in the southern city of Shiraz and was denied meeting or seeing his family one last time, though this is permitted under the Iranian law.
“Were you in such a hurry to carry out the sentence that you deprived Navid of a last visit?” Afkari’s lawyer Hassan Younesi said on Twitter.
Lately, Iran has been in limelight for brutally torturing protestors jailed during the anti-government protests. Amnesty International, in its latest report, has accused Iranian authorities of violating human rights of people who participated in nationwide protests against the increased petrol prices, economic hardships and political repression. More than 7,000 people, including children as young as 10-years-old, were arrested in a crackdown last year.
A union representing 85,000 athletes from across the globe urged the Iranian authorities to not execute Navid Afkari. The World Players Association warned Iran about the country’s expulsion from world sport if it went ahead with the execution. The association also said that Afkari had been “unjustly targeted” for taking part in the protests.
US President Donald Trump also pleaded mercy for the Iranian wrestler, saying his “sole act was an anti-government demonstration on the streets.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) also showed sorrow at Afkari’s death, saying “It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC… did not achieve our goal.”
An audio recording leaked from the cell where Afkari was being held. He said in the recording that he was being tortured in the prison. His brothers Vahid and Habib have also been sentenced to 54 and 27 years in prison in the same case. Afkari’s mother says her sons have been forced to testify false statements against each other.
While Iranian authorities have denied any torture claims, lawyer Younesi claimed that there is no video of the moment of the security guard’s killing.
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