Iran intensifies persecution of executed Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari’s family

Photo by EVERT ELZINGA/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

Afkari was executed in September 2020 for his alleged role in anti-government protests in 2018.

The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to persecute Navid Afkari’s family, members of whom are now facing targeted attacks and arrests for protesting the wrongful imprisonment of Navid’s brothers, Vahid and Habib.

According to Navid’s brother, Saeed, members of the Afkari family gathered in front of the Adelabad prison to protest against his brothers’ solitary confinement. He tweeted that “plainclothes officers severely beat my mother, my sister, my father, my aunts and others. They confiscated the cell phones, arrested my sister and one of the women and released them an hour later.”

Navid Afkari was sentenced to death for his alleged role killing a security officer in Shiraz, Fars Province during summer 2018 protests in the province. However, according to Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), there is evidence that he did not commit the alleged crime and that he was tortured during interrogation into giving a false “confession.”

Afkari’s arrest and subsequent execution garnered worldwide condemnation from sports organizations, human rights entities, and even a handful of celebrities and notable figures. UFC President Dana White even called upon outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump to help save the Iranian wrestling champion.

Vahid and his other brother, Habib, also participated in the demonstrations against the regime in 2018. Vahid was sentenced to 54 years and six months imprisonment while Habib faced 27 years and three months. Each were dealt 74 lashes on top of their respective sentences. Both brothers remain in prolonged solitary confinement in the same prison.

As the Afkari family attempted to protest the reported wrongful imprisonment, they were attacked by officers, who arrested several members and beat the elderly women. “Two female officers beat my mother so that her head was hit on the asphalt. 20 people beat Navid, 5 people [beat] Elham and 2 people [beat] my mother, who is a 55-year-old woman. You give meaning to the word filth, you cowards,” Saeed tweeted.

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