While the family of Iranian wrestling champion Navid Afkari was preparing to honor his memory on the first anniversary of his execution on September 12, the Iranian regime subjected them to persecution.
Elham and Saeed, two of Navid’s siblings, were stopped by security forces as they were heading to his grave in his native village of Sangar, Fars’s province. The two were beaten by security forces and Saeed was arrested and taken away.
In the days before this incident occurred, Saeed posted on his Twitter account saying that regime security forces had to pressure the Afkari family and their friends to prevent them from holding a memorial event. In a direct message to the regime, he said, “We have been enduring your savage oppression for three years, and while we still mourn, we will stand against you.”
Navid’s so-called crime was for being a part of anti-regime protests in Fars’s province in 2018. Despite many calls from around the world from sports federations and human rights organizations to revoke his death sentence, he was executed on September 12, 2020.
Before his execution, the regime subjected him to severe tortures and forced him to confess to crimes he did not commit, which is recorded and later broadcasted on state-run television to vilify him.
Habib and Vahid Afkari were arrested at the same time as their brother Navid for taking part in the same protests, but they were spared from execution. Instead, they were incarcerated in the Adel Abad prison in Shiraz and have been held there in solitary confinement since their brother’s execution last year.
Behiyeh Namjoo, the heartbroken mother of the Afkari brothers, gave a statement on the anniversary of Navid’s death to remember him and to give people around the world an update on the fate of his brothers. She said that Habib has been told that he will be released from prison on the one condition that he speaks out against his brother.
The President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Maryam Rajavi, has called on the United Nations Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to condemn the regime for persecuting the Afkari family.
She also called on the people of Iran to remember Navid and celebrate his life, which they did in cities across Iran on Monday, despite the regime’s strict security measures. Many social media accounts showcased videos and images of Iranian citizens commemorating the wrestling champion’s life.
The regime has resorted to propaganda to create an impression of a criminal from Navid Afkari. But the people of Iran continue to celebrate him as a freedom fighter and a champion.
His memory will forever be etched into the hearts and minds of the Iranian people, including being highly revered among the families of the protesters who were murdered during the November 2019 uprising protests by the regime’s security forces.