Freedom Star
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Freedom Star

Execution of Navid Afkari: The Result of Four Decades of Impunity for Iran’s Regime

Navid Afkari, a 27-year old wrestling champion in Iran, was executed by the Iranian regime on charge of charges of participating in peaceful protests in Iran.

Iran, September 13, 2020 — The Iranian regime’s judiciary executed Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old wrestling champion from Shiraz. A few days before his execution, Navid was transferred from Adel Abad prison in Shiraz to another facility, a telltale sign that the regime was getting ready to carry out the execution. But still the world was shocked and stunned by the execution of a young Iranian champion on Saturday morning. Given the current powder keg situation of the Iranian society, the regime’s only way to continue its survival is to ratchet up suppression and executions.

Continued crimes in Iran

For the people of Iran, this is not new. During their 42-year rule, Iran’s mullahs have massacred thousands in prisons because of their political views. In the summer of 1988, a death committee at the order of then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, executed 30,000 political prisoners in a few weeks. During the November 2019 nationwide uprising the regime massacred 1500 protesters in three days. Navid was arrested for taking part in popular protests in Shiraz in 2018 and was sentenced to death after being brutally tortured and forced to confess to crimes he had not committed.

But why has the regime been able to continue its crimes for such a long time? The answer is, it is largely due to the regime enjoying more than four decades of impunity in its crimes against humanity. The regime’s crimes were never investigated by the international community, its officials were never brought to justice. Ebrahim Raisi, who currently heads the judiciary and vocally defended the death warrant of Navid Afkari just recently, was a key player in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners. Yet he still enjoys a seat of power. Ali Khamenei, who is the supreme leader, was the president in the same era. Yet they continue to have a seat at the table of nations as respected members of the international community.

This lack of interest by the international community to hold the regime to account for its crime against humanity has only spurred Iranian officials to further use suppression, torture, and execution as the main tool to keep their hold on power.

Days before Afkari’s execution, worldwide campaigns by the Iranian opposition, athletes, activists, and members of other communities called on the nation states to condemn the sentence and pressurize the regime to revoke it. But world leaders largely remained silent, concerned mainly about their political and economic interests regarding the Iranian regime.

And so the regime proceeded with the execution, confident that world leaders will continue to give it a free pass for its crimes.

The regime needs domestic suppression to maintain power

The question is why did the regime ignore calls to halt Navid’s execution? Even for its image, it would have better to call it off and put up a show of clemency. But for a regime that has expired its legitimacy long ago, any retreat from repression will have wider repercussions, and continued repression and violence is the only way it can hold off its impending collapse.

The reality is that the people of Iran do not want this regime anymore, and they loudly expressed their desire for the overthrowing of the regime in five nationwide uprisings since 2018. In recent weeks, many regime officials have expressed fears of more nationwide uprisings in upcoming months. Currently, there are ongoing strikes and protests in many cities across Iran, and the regime knows that it will either have to respond to the demands of protesters or send them back home with threats of persecution.

Another reason for the hasty execution of Navid Afkar was the regime’s desire to boost the declining morale of its own forces, who are terrified of the explosion of public outrage. By suppressing protesters and those arrested in uprisings the regime aims to exude power to its own troops and give them confidence that no matter how much they commit crimes, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will have their back.

The world must stand with the people of Iran

The people of Iran have made their intentions and desires clear: They do not want this regime and will continue to struggle for their freedom. The regime has also made its intentions clear: It will maintain its hold on power at any cost, even if it means murdering thousands and millions of innocents. Now the world community must make its choice: Will nations continue to cajole a regime that has blood all over its hands and history, or will they stand behind the Iranian people in their desire for freedom and democracy.

Sooner or later, the people of Iran and their resistance movement will overthrow this criminal regime. It is up to the international community to decide which side of history it will stand.




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Masoud Dalvand

Masoud Dalvand

Human rights activist and advocate of democracy, freedom, and justice in Iran.

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