Grave Of Executed Iranian Wrestler Afkari Desecrated
Hours after the father and brother of the executed Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari were arrested for a few hours at his gravesite on Thursday, Elham Afkari, Navid’s sister reported that her brother’s grave was destroyed.
Elham Afkari published a photo of his brother’s destroyed grave on Instagram and wrote: “You can threaten, destroy, or arrest, what are you going to do with Navid’s name and memory in people’s hearts?”
Navid Afkari was arrested along with his brothers Habib and Vahid during protests in Iran in 2018. He initially received a death sentence for an “act of war against God” for his participation in protests, but in order to avoid a public backlash, the authorities later charged him with the murder of a government employee along with his brothers. He was executed despite widespread international campaigns.
Vahid Afkari was sentenced to 54 years and 6 months in prison and 74 lashes. Habib, the other brother, was sentenced to 27 years and 3 months in prison and 74 lashes. The two have been kept in solitary confinement for 106 days, since the execution of Navid.
The news of the desecration of Navid Afkari’s tomb broke on Thursday after it was reported that Hossein and Hamid Afkari, Navid’s father and other brother were arrested by the security forces at his gravesite in their village.
According to the reports, Navid’s father and brother intended to prepare his grave for a tombstone when the security forces who identified themselves as Intelligence Ministry agents arrested them.
Some informed sources say the security forces told Navid’s father and brother after their arrest that if they agree to install a tombstone approved by intelligence organs, they will finally transfer Vahid and Habib Afkari who have been kept in solitary for 106 days to one of the general population wards in Adel Abad prison. This is an indication that the authorities are afraind of Navid's tomb becoming a symbol of injustice for many Iranians.
In a letter to the Shiraz prison judge on October 20, parents of Afkari brothers Behiyeh Namjoo and Hossein Afkari stated that their sons Vahid and Habib Afkari were taken to solitary confinement one week before the execution of Navid Afkari and have been tortured. They demanded their return to the general population and told the judiciary officials to answer for the torture of their sons. But the judiciary and the prison officials have continued to keep the brothers in solitary confinement.
Security forces have also increased pressure on the Afkari family and have prevented them from visiting the gravesite of their son, with the last incident being the arrest of his brother and father and destruction of his grave.
The Islamic Republic security forces have a long history of persecution and harassment of the families of political activists and protesters who were killed during protests or executed by the order of the Revolutionary Court. Such harassments include preventing them from holding funerals, arresting the attendees of funerals, kidnapping family members, destroying and desecrating the graves, and burying their loved ones in unmarked graves and unknown locations that is not disclosed to the family.