Iran has announced it may execute Vahid Afkari, the brother of champion wrestler Navid Afkari, who was the victim of an extrajudicial killing by Iran’s judiciary for his protesting against Iranian regime corruption.
The founder of the United for Navid campaign, Masih Alinejad, on Saturday tweeted: “After executing the innocent athlete Navid Afkari for protesting, authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran have now threatened to execute his jailed brother, Vahid Afkari, if he doesn’t agree to make forced confessions. His life is in danger.#United4Navid.”
BREAKING NEWS:After executing the innocent athlete #NavidAfkari for protesting, authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran have now threatened to execute his jailed brother, #VahidAfkari, if he doesn’t agree to make forced confessions. His life is in danger.#United4Navid pic.twitter.com/Og2K8pDUEP— Masih Alinejad ️ (@AlinejadMasih) May 1, 2021
Alinejad is a women’s-rights activist who has cultivated sources across Iran for her reports and journalism on human-rights violations.
Iranian officials threatened Vahid with death, Voice of America, a US government news organization, reported on its Persian-language website.
Vahid and his other brother, Habib, also participated in the demonstrations against the regime in 2018. For their peaceful protests, Iran sentenced Vahid to 54 years and six months imprisonment and Habib to 27 years and three months, as well as 74 lashes each. Both brothers have endured torture and isolation in prison.
A fourth Afkari brother, Saeed, tweeted in Persian about his “brothers’ complaint against solitary confinement, beatings and also the threat of murder by two high-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic.”
“After 228 days, an informal interrogation session was held only in Vahid’s presence,” he wrote. “The interrogator did not give permission to access the file, to the video of the beatings, to the medical jurisprudence report of the injuries, and the solitary confinement still continues.”
Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian dissident, provided The Jerusalem Post with the translation of Saeed Afkari’s tweet.
“There is not one shred of evidence in this damned case that shows I’m guilty,” Navid Afkari, 27, said shortly before his execution last September, adding that the regime’s hanging judges were “looking for a neck for their rope.”
Meanwhile, the United For Navid campaign and the sports human-rights organization Global Athlete last week welcomed the International Judo Federation’s decision to suspend the Iran Judo Federation (IJF) for a four-year period due to discrimination against Israeli athletes.
The two organizations wrote in a joint statement: “This sanction is a result of Iranian athletes being forced into a scheme to withdraw or throw matches to prevent them from competing against Israeli athletes.”
Rob Koehler, director-general of Global Athlete, said: “In terms of this decision, the IJF has clearly displayed their commitment to fundamental human rights and the rights of their athletes. Discrimination has no place in sport, and the International Judo Federation’s actions have backed this commitment.”
“These human-rights violations are not limited to the sport of Judo,” the statement said. “As a result, we once again call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to immediately open an investigation into other human-rights violations occurring in Iranian sport. The United for Navid campaign has provided evidence of abuse, and the IOC has yet to act.”
Sardar Pashaei, the former head coach of Iran’s Greco-Roman wrestling team and a United for Navid campaign member, said: “We welcome the IJF’s decision to protect Iranian athletes. We have also sent letters to the International Olympic Committee outlining numerous cases of athlete abuse by Iranian sport officials. Months have passed, yet the IOC refuses to respond. As an Iranian athlete, I know firsthand that there is a grave fear of retribution for those who come forward, a very real fear not just for individual safety but for the safety of their families. The IOC must act now.”
Separately, Turkey is threatening to deport a prominent Iranian-Kurdish dissident, Afshin Sohrabzadeh, to the Islamic Republic, according to media reports. Sohrabzadeh will likely be executed if Turkey deports him.
“Iranian dissidents in Turkey are unsure whether the country is still a refuge after what appears to be a new wave of arrests and deportation orders targeting asylum-seekers from the Islamic Republic,” The Guardian reported last month.
“Afshin Sohrabzadeh faced torture and solitary confinement during seven years in prison in Iran before he managed to escape during a hospital visit and flee across the border to Turkey in 2016, followed by his wife,” the report said.
Turkish authorities detained Sohrabzadeh after a visit to the police station in the city of Eskisehir to secure travel papers. The Turkish government charged Sohrabzadeh with being a national security threat.