German athletes urge sanctions against Iran for execution of wrestler

Olympics and United World Wrestling face criticism for weakness

People stage a protest against the execution by Iran of up to 20 Kurds (photo credit: REUTERS)
People stage a protest against the execution by Iran of up to 20 Kurds
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The German athletic advocacy association Athleten Deutschland on Sunday urged the International Olympic Committee and United World Wrestling to impose sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran for hanging a reportedly innocent champion Greco-Roman wrestler.
“Athleten Deutschland is deeply shocked by the death of Navid Afkari. His execution must not be without consequences. We expect the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and United World Wrestling (UWW) to take a strong stand against human rights violations of athletes and other groups of people who are part of the Olympic movement or are in its sphere of influence,” the organization said, adding “This also includes establishing an appropriate sanction mechanism. It is long overdue that the strongly humanistically shaped Olympic movement commits itself to the protection of human rights.”
Germany’s government funds Athleten Deutschland, yet Chancellor Angela Merkel has remained silent about Afkari’s execution. US President Donald Trump urged Iran’s rulers not to execute the wrestler.
The Iranian authorities hanged Afkari on Saturday for the alleged crime of killing a security guard and protesting against regime corruption during nationwide demonstrations in 2018.
Afkari, who was widely believed to have been brutally tortured to confess to a murder he did not commit, was buried on Sunday in the southern village of Sangar.
Voice of America reporter and activist Masih Alinejad tweeted: “We Iranian people are furious because the Islamic Republic killed one of us for the crime of protesting and this is not acceptable in the 21st Century. Here [sic] what we demand from international community. If you agree please support. Navid Afkari was innocent.”
The labor union organization Global Athlete said in a statement: “We call on athlete solidarity to demand that the International Olympic Committee and United World Wrestling immediately implement sanctions that expel Iran from world sport for this heinous execution."
Prior to Iran’s execution of Afkari, a global campaign was underway to save his life.
The hashtag #BanIRSports4Navid calling for Iran’s regime to be boycotted from sports competition has trended on Twitter.
US democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Saturday tweeted: “Iran’s cruel execution of Navid Afkari is a travesty. No country should arrest, torture, or execute peaceful protestors or activists.”
After The Jerusalem Post spent a week seeking to secure a statement from Human Rights Watch, the NGO wrote to the Post on the day of Afkari’s execution.
“Iranian authorities’ utter disregard of serious allegations that they tortured Navid Afkari into confessing to alleged murder fits with a broader pattern of systematic impunity for torture and coerced confessions,” Tara Sepehri Far, Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch said. She added that “The authorities should drop charges that violate the Afkari brothers’ legitimate freedoms, investigate their allegations of torture, and ensure that they get a fair trial.”
Sepehri Far said that, “instead of prosecuting the Afkari brothers and protesters in unfair trials, the authorities should allow for an independent inquiry into the abuses by security forces cracking down on the protests. The authorities should ensure anyone accused of a real crime gets a fair trial in accordance with international human rights standards.”
The Center for Human Rights in Iran criticized the feeble interventions from IOC president Thomas Bach and the UWW.
“Yet it must also be noted that the response of the International Olympic Committee and the United World Wrestling organization was weak and inadequate; they failed to uphold their own principles and regulations, thereby undermining their own viability. Sports federations must hold Iran accountable for its actions,” the center wrote.
Both Bach and the UWW did not publicly urge Iran’s regime not to execute Afkari.
The Post sent press queries to the IOC, UWW and USA Wrestling. UWW president Nenad Lalovic did not publicly urge Iran's regime to stay the execution.
The executive director of USA Wrestling, Rich Bender, was silent during the entire campaign to save Afkari’s life.