By Krishna Menon
4th September, 2020
US President Donald Trump, urged Iran to spare the life of a young talented wrestler, Navid Afkari. Afkari and his brothers were arrested for their role in the 2018 protests held against the Iranian government. The president issued this statement after citing a Fox News report that conveyed that the wrestler was facing two death sentences for his participation in the protests.
Apart from the president, the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) has also issued a statement urging the Iranian government to exonerate the wrestler. Navid and his brothers were arrested for their role in the peaceful protests and have been charged with crimes they allegedly have no connection to. Reports suggest that Afkari and his brothers underwent torture and confessions were forced out of them. The brothers were made to admit to committing heinous crimes, in order to substantiate the pressing of severe charges against them, according to a report by the Human Rights Activists News Agency.
Navid was sentenced to two death penalty sentences, while his brothers got 54 and 27 years, respectively. They all got 74 whip lashes as a part of their sentence, a form of punishment discarded by the free world ages ago as it was questionable in its nature and disregarded the rights of felons. Navid is said to have been arrested for the death of a police officer during the protests, but there seems to be a lack of hard evidence that shows substantial proof on the grounds to be convicted, said the brothers’ lawyer Hassan Younesi.
Prior to his role in the protests, Navid was a shining talent in the country’s tradition of wrestling. Wrestling is a very popular sport in Iran and Navid has been known and accoladed for his prowess. Afkari has won several medals in the National level of the country.
This case might take a toll on the already tense relations between the US and Iran. Multiple human rights organisations have stepped in before to condemn the inhumane treatment and punishment that is practiced in some Middle Eastern nations.
So far, Navid’s case is slowly gaining traction as more than 10000 people have signed against this decision taken by the Iranian government in a petition. This petition is furthermore being promoted by International wrestling icons such as Conor McGregor, and other dignified prominent individuals to stop the sentence being carried forward and for their safe release. The wrestler and his brothers remain under the custody of the Iranian police.
Sources: news.com.au, Fox News, usnews.com, BBC, Deccan Herald.
Edited by Sagarika Satapathy.