Iranians launch 'tweetstorm' for release of Navid Akari’s jailed brothers

The twitter hashtag #ReleaseAfkaris gained widespread traction on the micro-blogging platform.

A portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, Sept. 13, 2020.  (photo credit: EVERT ELZINGA/ANP/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
A portrait of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari during a demonstration on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, Sept. 13, 2020.
(photo credit: EVERT ELZINGA/ANP/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)
Iran’s imprisonment of Vahid and Habib Afkari for protesting against the regime’s corruption in 2018 has sparked a tweetstorm demanding their release.
The twitter hashtag #ReleaseAfkaris gained widespread traction on the micro-blogging platform.
The Afkari’s brother Navid, a champion Greco-Roman wrestler, was hanged last September by the Iranian regime for his role in demonstrating in the city of Shiraz against the regime’s financial and political misconduct. Iran’s regime sentenced Vahid and Habib to 56 years and six months in prison, and 24 years and three months in prison respectively. Both brothers are also slated to receive 74 lashes.
Masih Alinejad, a prominent Iranian journalist and activist, who founded the campaign United For Navid, tweeted: “The name of this sad mother is Bahiyeh Namjou. They executed her athlete son, #NavidAfkari recently. Her two other sons, Vahid & Habib, have been in solitary confinement for more than 3 months. Join our tweet storm and help us get them released. #ReleaseAfkaris #United4Navid.”
In a separate tweet, she wrote: “These athletes from different branches of sports served in Iran’s national team. To condemn the execution of #NavidAfkari, they joined the #United4Navid campaign & they’ve created this amazing video to demand the release of his imprisoned brothers, Vahid & Habib #ReleaseAfkaris.”
The executive director of UN Watch, Hillel Neuer, joined the campaign to free the Afkari brothers, writing on Twitter: “The Islamic Republic of Iran is an elected member of the UN Commission on Criminal Justice. Why António Guterres? #ReleaseAfkaris #United4Navid.”
Guterres is the secretary-general of the United Nations.
The National Union for Democracy in Iran, a nonpartisan organization of Iranian-Americans raising awareness on the freedom movement in Iran, tweeted: “After killing wrestler #NavidAfkari, the regime in #Iran has kept his two brothers, Habib and Vahid, in solitary confinement for more than 90 days. They are being denied even the most basic rights. Use #ReleaseAfkaris to share their story and be their voice.”
The Iranian-American writer and activist, Mariam Memarsadeghi, tweeted: “Afkari brothers could have been *any* Iranian’s brothers, sons, friends, neighbors, classmates. They rose for the freedom of all of Iran, never backed down, despite severe torture. Navid was murdered. His brothers are still being tormented. #ReleaseAfkaris.”
On Thursday, the Israeli government’s Twitter account @IsraelPersian tweeted in Persian: “Ali Soleimani, former Iranian wrestling champion. We thank this champion and hope that one day, far from the failed policies of the Islamic Republic, Iranian and Israeli athletes face each other on the sports field.”
Soleimani, who lives in Germany and is a member of the United For Navid campaign, is shown holding a sign reading: “I am an athlete and I accept Israel as a country.”
Iran boycotts Israeli athletes during sports competition.
The website for United For Navid wrote that Soleimani is a former member of Iran’s national Greco-Roman wrestling team. “Ali Soleimani won several medals and distinctions in the field of wrestling. He has left Iran for Germany and says that many people in Iran seek the freedoms that people in other countries take for granted.”