European Union Condemns Execution of Iranian Wrestler Navid Afkari

The European Union says that it condemns the execution of Navid Afkari “in the strongest terms” after the Iranian wrestler was killed on September 12.

Afkari, who was 27 at the time of his execution, was sentenced to death in relation to the murder of an Iranian security guard during the anti-government protests in 2018.

The execution was carried out at a prison in Shiraz, according to Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA, despite a high-profile international campaign asking for the sentence to be called off.

“Human rights remain a central feature of our engagement with Iran,” said an EU spokesperson in a statement that was released Monday. “We will continue to engage with Iranian authorities on this issue including through the local EU representation in Teheran and also on individual cases such as this recent execution.”

Following his acceptance of the murder charge, Afkari’s family and activists claimed he was tortured into making a false confession. His lawyer said there was no proof of his guilt and that authorities denied him of his right to a final visit with family prior to the execution.

“The European Union is opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and cases with no exception. It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”

FULL EU STATEMENT

On 12 September 2020, Navid Afkari (aged 27) was executed in Iran, after being convicted of killing a security guard during anti-government protests in 2018.

The European Union condemns this execution in the strongest terms.

Human rights remain a central feature of our engagement with Iran. We will continue to engage with Iranian authorities on this issue including through the local EU representation in Teheran and also on individual cases such as this recent execution.

The European Union is opposed to the death penalty under all circumstances and cases with no exception. It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.

The International Olympic Committee also released a statement following Afkari’s execution, saying the organization was “shocked” by the news and that president Thomas Bach had made personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran asking for mercy.

“It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC, together with the NOC of Iran, United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, did not achieve our goal,” the statement reads. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navid Afkari.”

FULL IOC STATEMENT

The execution of wrestler Navid Afkari in Iran is very sad news. The IOC is shocked by this announcement today. In letters, Thomas Bach, the IOC President, had made direct personal appeals to the Supreme Leader and to the President of Iran this week and asked for mercy for Navid Afkari, while respecting the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is deeply upsetting that the pleas of athletes from around the world and all the behind-the-scenes work of the IOC, together with the NOC of Iran, United World Wrestling and the National Iranian Wrestling Federation, did not achieve our goal. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Navid Afkari.

Afkari was a national champion in wrestling, a sport that has won Iran 43 Olympic medals dating back to 1952.

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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