Less than a year after Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari was executed by Islamic Republic of Iran for allegedly participating in demonstrations against the regime’s corruption, his brother may face a similar fate.
According to Masih Alinejad, the founder of the United for Navid campaign, Iran’s regime threatened to execute his jailed brother, Vahid Afkari, if he “doesn’t agree to make forced confessions.”
“His life is in danger,” Alinejad stated on Twitter.
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.
“These brothers potentially witnessed the crimes committed against their brother and now they could also be executed to prevent them from speaking out,” said CHRI Executive Director Hadi Ghaemi. “Instead of being able to grieve their loved one’s death, they are at the mercy of Iranian authorities who act as though they could silence anyone with impunity.”
In a recent audio message smuggled out of prison, Vahid Afkari revealed that he was tortured and believes he may also be executed.
“I can only depend on reason and the law,” he said. “There’s no other way [to save my life]. People of Iran, I’m innocent!”
In a series of tweets in April, Saeed, a fourth Afkari brother, added that his brothers have been threatened with murder by high-ranking officials of the regime.
“After 228 days, an informal interrogation session was held only in Vahid’s presence. The interrogator did not give permission to access the file, to the video of the beatings, to the medical jurisprudence report of the injuries, and the solitary confinement still continues.
“The Iranian judiciary should abide by domestic laws against torture and prolonged solitary confinement, allow these brothers full access to counsel and due process, and let this family grieve and seek justice without a climate of fear,” he added.