by Hugh Fitzgerald
Navid Afkari was an Iranian, a champion wrestler, and a patriot, who wanted only the best for Iran. In 2018, he and two of his brothers attended a peaceful protest – it was put down violently by Iranian security forces – against the miserable state of Iran’s economy. For that brief nonviolent appearance, Navid Afkari was falsely accused of killing a security office who was monitoring the protest. There was not a shred of evidence to support that charge. Nonetheless, Afkari was sentenced to death; he was hanged this September. A report on how the Iranian regime continues, even after his death, to torment his family, is here: “Iran’s regime destroyed grave of executed champion wrestler,” by Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, December 19, 2020:
The Islamic Republic of Iran continued its violent repression of the executed champion wrestler Navid Afkari, desecrating his grave on Thursday after his brother and father were arrested during a visit to the cemetery.
Afkari’s sister Elham posted a photograph of Navid’s ravaged grave, writing on Instagram: “You can threaten, destroy, or arrest, what are you going to do with Navid’s name and memory in people’s hearts?”
Iran’s regime, according to Western governments and human rights organizations, imposed an extrajudicial hanging on Afkari in September for his role in protesting regime corruption in 2018.
The regime sentenced him to death for an “act of war against God” for his participation in demonstrations against miserable economic conditions in Iran.
The clerical regime of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claimed without evidence Afkari killed a security officer who monitored the protests.
The Jerusalem Post reported on Dec. 17 that Navid’s father Hossein Afkari and his brother Hamid were cleaning the area around the wrestler’s grave when they were arrested. They were released later in the day.
Apparently they had no right to clean the grave of their martyred son and brother. How many years, how many lashes, will each get for this intolerable defiance of the regime?
The destruction of Afkari’s grave electrified social media with a new wave of outrage directed at Tehran’s clerical rulers. “After executing innocent #NavidAfkari, a champion wrestler, and imprisoning his 2 brothers, Islamic Republic of Iran has now desecrated Navid’s grave. He’s not even allowed to rest in peace. How much more should this poor family suffer? The world, hear this family,” tweeted Masih.
According to the website Iran International, the governor of Sepidan, a county in the Fars province where Afkari is buried, said the authorities destroyed Navid’s grave site because of a wall that was constructed at the site that violated regulations.
The governor claimed that the wall was “without following technical engineering standards, and without permission from technical authorities.” Reports said that Navid’s father and brother sought to “prepare his grave for a tombstone when the security forces who identified themselves as Intelligence Ministry agents arrested them” wrote Iran International.
What wall at the grave site? The father and brother did not put up any wall; they were merely cleaning the site in order to later put up a tombstone, when they were arrested. This story about a wall that violated regulations is more nonsense and lies from the authorities – in this case, the governor of the country of Sepidan. And why were they arrested? What harm had they done to the Islamic Republic by sweeping away some handfuls of dirt and brush from the grave of their son and brother, Navid Afkari?
We understand. The tombstone would have posed a great danger to the mighty Islamic Republic. The 200,000 members of the IRGC would be quaking in their boots if it were allowed to be placed on his grave. Such a tombstone could have become the site of pilgrimages by those who were disaffected from the regime and wanted to pay respects to the memory of Navid Afkari. Some might even bring flowers, an Infidel custom, but not for true Muslims. Horrors! There had to be no tombstone, nor any other above-ground indication, of where Afkari’s grave was located. No tombstone, no grave marker of any kind, nothing to indicate where he was buried, only the dirt over the simplest of graves, dirt that was occasionally lifted and set down again by the wind.
For protesting against the worsening economic situation in 2018, Iran’s regime sentenced Navid’s brothers Vahid and Habib to 56 years and six months in prison and 24 years and three months in prison, respectively. Both brothers are also slated to receive 74 lashes….
Think about those sentences for a minute. 56 years – a life-sentence – for Vahid Afkari, because he took part in a non-violent protest against economic conditions in Iran. And 24 years for his brother Habib, for the same “crime.” Why such a difference in their sentences? Did Habib not shout as loudly as Vahid? Did he leave out a line? These are sentences suitable for murderers, not for those whose only crime is to chant “No to Gaza. No to Lebanon. I give my life for Iran.”
The immense cruelty of the Iranian regime, in killing Afkari, in sentencing his brothers to very long terms in hideous oubliettes like Evin Prison, in arresting his father and another of his brothers for the crime of cleaning his gravesite (and what sentences will the two of them receive?) – should be forever remembered on social media, where the violating hand of the Iranian regime cannot reach. And think of how great must be the fear, among the ayatollahs, of the power of Navid Afkari, even beyond the grave, as a martyr whose memory cannot be extinguished thanks to the Internet, and that will someday bring a fitting retribution – how long can this horrible regime last? — to those who snuffed out his young life.
First published in Jihad Watch.