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

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…

By: Karim Zidan | 2 years ago
Iran intensifies persecution of executed Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari’s family
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

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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About the author
Karim Zidan
Karim Zidan

Karim Zidan is a investigative reporter and feature writer focusing on the intersection of sports and politics. He has written for BloodyElbow since 2014 and has served as an associate editor since 2016. He also writes for The New York Times and The Guardian. Karim has been invited to speak about his work at numerous universities, including Princeton, and was a panelist at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival and the Oslo Freedom Forum. He also participated in the United Nations counter-terrorism conference in 2021. His reporting on Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in MMA, much of which was done for Bloody Elbow, has led to numerous award nominations, and was the basis of an award-winning HBO Real Sports documentary.

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