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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Iranian athletes at Tokyo Olympics keep in mind murdered wrestler Navid Afkari

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An historical sport, wrestling has lengthy electrified Iran and the USA. But in 2020, the Islamic Republic executed the adorned Greco-Roman wrestler Navid Afkari for his position in a 2018 protest towards corruption within the theocratic state.

The distinction between the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism, in accordance with the U.S. State Division, and the dissident Iranian athletes who honored Afkari in Tokyo couldn’t be larger.

On the one hand, in a video posted by Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on Twitter, Vahid Sarlak, who defected from the Islamic Republic and now coaches Tajikistan’s nationwide judo staff, stated from Tokyo, “I wished to do a small gesture for an Iranian champion. This champion’s rights have been violated in Iran. He ought to have been right here now. 

“However he isn’t amongst us. RIP Navid Afkari. I need to fly this in reminiscence of Navid Afkari within the Olympic Village. In order that his soul lives amongst us ceaselessly. Within the title of the United for Navid marketing campaign, we’re at all times pondering of Navid,” he continued.


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As Sarlak spoke, he displayed an image of Afkari hooked up to a flag and added, “Wherever on the planet we’re, Navid is at all times alive for us. We’ll at all times commemorate him. I’m flying this flag in his reminiscence.”

Sarlak, who was a member of Iran’s nationwide judo staff and has criticized the regime for prohibiting its athletes to compete towards Israelis, is a part of the United for Navid marketing campaign that was based by Alinejad. 

On the opposite finish of the spectrum, Iran’s regime not too long ago celebrated the Olympic gold medal awarded to a member of the U.S.-designated terrorist group the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Javad Foroughi, a 41-year-old IRGC member, gained a gold medal as a marksman on July 24. Foroughi claims he served as a nurse for the IRGC in Syria between 2013 and 2015. He delivered a navy salute from the Olympic podium.

United for Navid stated in a press release that presenting a gold medal to Foroughi is “not solely a disaster for Iranian sports activities but in addition for the worldwide neighborhood, and particularly the repute of the IOC [International Olympic Committee].”

The NGO added, “The IRGC has a historical past of violence and killing, not solely of Iranian individuals and protesters there, but in addition harmless individuals in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.”

Korean shooter Jin Jong-oh, a six-time Olympic medalist, slammed the IOC for awarding Foroughi, declaring it to be “pure nonsense,” The Korea Instances reported. He requested: “How can a terrorist win first place [at the Olympics]?” including, “That’s essentially the most absurd and ridiculous factor.”

The Olympics praised Foroughi’s victory on its Twitter feed, sparking outrage amongst Iranians and human rights activists.

United for Navid despatched a letter to the IOC’s Ethics Fee, demanding the group provoke a proper investigation into Foroughi’s position as an IRGC member.

The IOC wrote in an e-mail that the IRGC is identical because the armed forces of different international locations. In response to the U.S. authorities, the IRGC and its proxies have murdered over 600 American navy personnel within the Center East. 

When requested in regards to the IOC’s dealing with of Afkari’s case, Rob Koehler, director basic of International Athlete − The Motion for Positive Progress in Sport, instructed Fox Information, “The IOC’s inaction on athlete abuse continues to ship a transparent message to athletes worldwide that their well being and security are secondary to the implementation of the Video games and the preservation of a ‘world unity’ advertising technique.”

Koehler, who seeks to advance the human rights of athletes, stated, “Time and time once more we’re seeing examples of the IOC’s failure to prioritize athlete rights and human rights; the IOC’s inaction towards the Iran Olympic Committee has resulted in continued athlete abuse.”

The IOC confronted intense criticism for failing to sanction Iran’s regime after it executed Afkari in September 2020, in what Western governments and human rights organizations stated was an extrajudicial killing of an harmless man. The U.S. authorities instantly sanctioned the judicial and jail officers who carried out Afkari’s execution.


Iran’s rulers claimed Afkari killed a safety guard who was monitoring protesters in the course of the 2018 demonstration. 

Then-President Trump helped breathe important life into the marketing campaign to save lots of Afkari by tweeting a Fox News story on the 2 dying penalties imposed on the wrestler.

On the time, Richard Grenell, Trump’s performing director of nationwide intelligence, urged the glacial-like forms that’s the IOC to intervene.

The Iranian-American Sardar Pashaei, the previous coach of Iran’s famend Greco-Roman wrestling staff, instructed Fox Information, “There are a number of individuals from intelligence companies watching [Iranian] athletes.” 

The highest three representatives of Iran’s Nationwide Olympic Committee in Tokyo have intelligence service backgrounds, Pashaei stated. The chairman of Iran’s Nationwide Olympic Committee, Seyed Reza Salehi, has been accused by Iranians of the torture and homicide of political prisoners when he served as an intelligence officer.

“These three are with out a sports activities background and Navid just isn’t there [i.e., alive and at the Games in Tokyo],” stated Pashaei, who helps run the United for Navid marketing campaign.

“We’re going to preserve his reminiscence alive in the entire Olympics. Navid’s dream was to go to the Olympics and change into an Olympic champion. After I noticed Vahid with an image of Navid in Tokyo, it was emotional for me. Navid and different Navids must be there and it shouldn’t be the place for terrorists,” stated Pashaei, in a reference to the IRGC marksman. 

Pashaei stated his aim is to have a “a human rights sports activities award for these athletes who’re outspoken, for instance in China, Russia and Iran. They attempt to do one thing to cease discrimination. And the award could be in Navid Afkari’s title to maintain Navid’s title alive and lift consciousness amongst athletes, particularly for international locations that do not need democracies.”

The involvement of well-known athletes who’ve tens of millions of followers on social media “might create a wave and be efficient, like we did for Navid,” Pashaei stated.

The ladies’s rights campaigner and head of United for Navid, Masih Alinejad, instructed Fox Information that she is in contact with the Afkari household day by day. Navid’s mom is “crying for justice” and desires the world to assist safe the discharge of Navid’s brothers, Vahaid and Habib. The regime arrested the brothers for his or her participation within the 2018 protest and has held them in jail since 2018. 

“Since September 2020, the authorities have subjected them to renewed torture and different ill-treatment in obvious retaliation for talking out towards the enforced disappearance of their brother Navid Afkari, who was executed in secret on 12 September 2020,” wrote Amnesty Worldwide in June.


The FBI disclosed final month that Iran’s regime sought to kidnap Alinejad from her house in Brooklyn and take her again to the Islamic Republic the place she would seemingly face the dying penalty for her human rights work.

She stated she “anticipated the IOC to honor Navid and never a member of the IRGC.” 

Alinejad urged the world to categorise the Islamic Republic a “racist apartheid’ regime just like the  pariah standing of the previous apartheid regime in South Africa. She stated the IOC and different sports activities federations shouldn’t “normalize the murders of such a brutal regime” just like the Islamic Republic. United for Navid calls for that Iran’s clerical regime be suspended from all worldwide sport occasions.

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