Scott Douglas Jacobsen

If you want to murder someone with an illegitimate excuse, then a decent manner in which to do so is the excuse of the State, as such, whether secular-authoritarian or theocratic.

Navid Afkari was executed. Afkari was a wrestler accused of murder who had “international appeals for him to be spared.” In the midst of anti-government protests in 2018, he was accused of killing a security guard. Amnesty International considered the “secret” execution a “travesty of justice.”

Amnesty International reported, “Before his secret execution Navid Afkari, 27, was subjected to a shocking catalogue of human rights violations and crimes, including enforced disappearance; torture and other ill-treatment, leading to forced ‘confessions’; and denial of access to a lawyer and other fair trial guarantees.”

Afkari was searching for an opportunity to have a “fair trial” to “prove his innocence,” according to Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. Afkari argued that he was tortured into making a confession. Afkari said, “If I am executed, I want you to know that an innocent person, even though he tried and fought with all his strength to be heard, was executed.”

He was hanged in the southern city of Shiraz. Afkari was prevented from seeing family before his death, his lawyer said. The World Players Association (WPA), which represents 85,000 athletes around the globe, called for a stop to the execution, deeming Afkari “unjustly targeted.” The WPA argues the targeting was based on anti-government protest participation. They further argued, before the execution of Afkari on September 12, that Iran should be expelled from world sport.

“Given the impunity which prevails in Iran, we urge the international community, including UN human rights bodies and EU member states, to take strong action through public and private interventions,” stated Eltahaway. “We deplore the Iranian authorities’ repeated use of the death penalty, which has earned it the shameful status of consistently being among the world’s most prolific executioners. There is no justification for the death penalty, which is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and we urge the Iranian authorities to abolish it.”

There were calls in support of the late wrestler before and after the execution from American President Donald Trump and the International Olympic Committee, and others on social media. The punishments by the Iranian regime extended to Navid’s brothers, Vahid and Habib, with 57 years in prison and 27 years in prison, respectively, “in the same case.” This is according to various human rights activists in the country, as reported by the BBC.

Thus, this mid-September, Iran lost a national wrestling champion due to an execution by state authorities.