United Nations human rights experts on September 14, condemned Iran’s execution of champion wrestler and political prisoner Navid Afkari, the latest person to be executed for taking part in the nationwide protests of 2018 and 2019.
The experts included:
- Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran
- Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
- Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association
- Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression
They wrote: “It is deeply disturbing that the authorities appear to have used the death penalty against an athlete as a warning to its population in a climate of increasing social unrest. Such flagrant disregard for the right to life through summary executions is not only a matter of domestic concern. We call on the international community to react strongly to these actions by the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
The expert noted that Afkari was the second execution of a protester in the past two months and that the frequency of these sentences raised concerns about the regime’s future response to protests, opposition or dissent.
Afkari was wrongfully convicted of killing a security guard, as well as enmity against god, but the trials were held behind closed doors and confessions extracted under torture, according to the experts, lacking “even the most basic substantive or procedural fair trial standards”.
The experts wrote: “We are appalled at these serious allegations of torture which have not been investigated, the broadcasting of his forced confession by state television, and the use of closed and secret trials… The course of events in Navid Afkari’s case raises serious doubts about the veracity of the basis for the murder charge against him. The hastened secret execution, forced confession under torture as the sole evidence, closed trial and the lack of respect for the domestic requirements for reconciliation and the denial of a last family visit suggest that there was an attempt by the authorities to expedite his execution.”
They called on the regime to immediately halt all executions of protesters and they weren’t the only ones speaking out about the execution.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the execution of Afkari as “a vicious and cruel act” that the US condemns “in the strongest terms”, while US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft condemned “the Iranian regime’s continued and audacious disregard for human life” saying that the “voices of the Iranian people will not be silenced”.