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Iran: 17 Nobel Laureates Sign Statement Condemning Navid Afkari’s Execution

Nine more Nobel Laureates have signed onto a statement condemning the execution of Navid Afkari, an Iranian wrestling champion, joining eight other Nobel Laureates. This statement was originally published on September 13, 2020.

Signatories of this statement urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to condemn the Iranian regime for the execution of Navid Afkari. They also urged the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch representatives to visit Iranian prisons to meet with prisoners, especially political prisoners, and save the lives of those living in inhumane conditions.

The names of the all 17 Nobel signatories as well as the full text of the statement are below:

His Excellency Antonio Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General
The United Nations
New York, NY 10017

Mr. Secretary General,

We are appalled to hear of the horrific execution of Mr. Navid Afkari, the renowned wrestling champion in Iran. Despite a major global campaign, the Iranian regime hanged the 27-year-old Afkari, laying bare its inhuman nature and desperation in the face of looming uprisings.

Based on remarks by Mr. Afkari and human rights organizations, he was severely tortured to give false confession to murder but was sentenced to death for merely taking part in anti-government demonstrations in Iran.

Amnesty International reported on 2 September 2020 that in gruesome post-protest crackdown death sentences are issued based on torture-tainted “confessions”, hundreds subjected to grossly unfair trials on baseless national security charges and widespread torture including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, stress positions, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemical substances, and deprivation of medical care are applied against those detained in connection with the nationwide protests of November 2019.

We are gravely concerned that executions and torturing prisoners are continuing in Iran unabated. Years of impunity and appeasement have emboldened the ruling theocracy to perpetrate such heinous crimes. Silence and inaction will have the opposite effect.
We urge you and through you the United Nations Security Council and High Commissioner for Human Rights to take swift and practical action against the Iranian regime for the execution of Navid Afkari and tens of thousands of political prisoners.

Through your office, we ask the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ representative to visit Iranian prisons, meet with prisoners, especially political prisoners, and take steps to save the lives of those detained under inhuman conditions in Iranian jails.


  • Professor Barry Barish, Nobel Prize, Physics 2017, USA
  • Professor Michael Rosbash, Nobel Prize, Medicine 2017, USA
  • Professor Oliver Hart, Nobel Prize, Economics 2016, USA
  • Professor Paul Modrich, Nobel Prize, Chemistry 2015, USA
  • Professor Brian Kobilka, Nobel Prize, Chemistry 2012, USA
  • Professor David Wineland, Nobel Prize, Physics 2012, USA
  • Professor Gerhard Ertl, Nobel Prize, Chemistry 2007, Germany
  • Professor John Mather, Nobel Prize, Physics 2006, USA
  • Professor Roger D. Kornberg, Nobel Prize, Chemistry 2006, USA
  • Professor John Lewis Hall, Nobel Prize, Physics 2005, USA
  • Professor ‍Richard Roberts, Nobel Prize, Medicine 1993, USA
  • Professor Elias Corey, Nobel Prize, Chemistry 1990, USA
  • Professor Thomas Cech, Nobel Prize, Chemistry 1989, USA
  • Professor John Polanyi, Nobel Prize, Chemistry 1986, Canada
  • Professor Jerome Friedman, Nobel Prize, Physics 1990, USA
  • Professor Dudley Herschbach, Nobel Prize, Chemistry 1986, USA
  • Professor Sheldon Glashow, Nobel Prize, Physics, 1979, USA

Joint Letter of 17 Nobel laureates