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World Community Can Stop Further Executions in Iran by Helping Navid Afkari and Holding the Regime To Account for Its Past Crimes

The Iranian regime’s Judiciary has upheld the death sentence for Navid Afkari Sangari, arrested during 2018 nationwide Iran protests in Shiraz. There have been numerous calls to stop his execution, yet news reports indicate the mullahs are to execute Navid. Allowing the regime to do so is tantamount to giving a green light to the regime to continue its human rights abuses.

Torture and ill-treatment

The mullahs’ regime has severely tortured Navid Afkari to extract confessions from him. In a letter, Navid, a wrestling champion, described the horrific physical and psychological tortures he had undergone. “For around 50 days I had to endure the most horrendous physical and psychological tortures. They would beat me with sticks and batons, hitting my arms, legs, abdomen, and back. They would place a plastic bag on my head and torture me until I suffocated to the very brink of death. They also poured alcohol into my nose,” read the letter.

The Iranian regime has been using torture to force prisoners into making false confessions or to break their resistance. The Iranian Resistance, as well as many rights groups, such as Amnesty International, have on many occasions raised this issue. Following the major protests in 2018 and 2019 across Iran, the Iranian regime arrested thousands of protesters and subjected them to vicious tortures. This is in addition to killing dozens of protesters on the streets in 2018 and over 1500 protesters in November 2019.

In a report published on September 2, Amnesty International referred to the vicious human rights violations in the Iranian prisons.

The report said: “According to information gathered by Amnesty International, torture and other ill-treatment was used for the purposes of punishment, intimidation, mocking and humiliation of detainees. It was also used as an interrogation tactic to elicit self-incriminating statements and “confessions” not just about detainees’ involvement in the protests, but also about their alleged associations with opposition groups outside Iran, human rights defenders, journalists and media organizations outside Iran, as well as foreign governments. Victims told the organization that the torture sometimes started during or immediately after arrest, when detainees were usually blindfolded before being shoved into vehicles and beaten when they asked questions about where they were being taken.”

“The most frequently reported methods of physical torture used against those arrested in connection with the November 2019 protests included beatings, floggings, suspension, forcing detainees into stress positions for prolonged periods, often while blindfolded or having their head covered in a bag or sack, the use of solitary confinement for 24 hours a day for periods reaching months, and the denial of sufficient food, potable water and medical treatment including medication,” read the report.

“Amnesty International also obtained information from primary sources on interrogators belonging to security and intelligence bodies and prison officials subjecting detainees to extreme temperatures and the bombardment of light or sound over a sustained period, including at night; stripping detainees and spraying them with cold water in cold temperatures; forcible extraction of nails from victims’ fingers or toes; sexual violence and humiliation; pepper-spraying including on eyes and genital area; waterboarding; electric shocks, including to temples and testicles; mock executions; and forced administration of chemical substances – methods which correspond to patterns of torture previously documented in the country,” the report added.

The Iranian regime’s reaction

Following the rising international condemnation of the regime’s decision to execute Navid Afkari and the regime’s use of torture for forcing him to confess, the Iranian regime’s Judiciary Chief, Ebrahim Raisi, wrote on Twitter: “Justice will be served powerfully.” By Justice, Ebrahim Raisi, who played a key role during the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, meant nothing but extrajudicial executions and vicious tortures.

 

A historical reminder

The methods used by the Iranian regime in torturing prisoners, holding brief courts without allowing prisoners to properly defend themselves, and not giving information about prisoners whereabout to their family members, which are listed in Amnesty International’s new report, are similar to those used by the regime back in the 1980s, particularly during the 1988 massacre.

In the summer of 1988, the so-called “Death Commissions,” formed after Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against all political prisoners who had maintained their beliefs, executed over 30,000 political prisoners, mostly members and supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Back then, the Death Commissions held mock trials, lasting not more than several minutes, and sent prisoners who persevered on their ideals to the gallows. Many were tortured before execution. Now after 32 years, the family members of the 1988 massacre victims still have no information about their loved ones and do not know where they were buried.

The 1988 massacre has stayed unpunished for over three decades. The perpetrators of this crime, such as Raisi, today hold top positions in the regime and continue oppressing any voice of dissent.

The international community’s failure in holding the mullahs’ regime to account for the 1988 massacre has emboldened this regime to further kill its opponents.

Now, it is time for the international community to end the regime’s impunity once and for all. This could be done through the immediate intervention of the United Nations to halt Navid Afkari’s execution and could be completed by holding the regime accountable for its human rights violations for the past four decades.

As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said: “Maintaining silence about torture and crime against humanity would amount to the trampling of the values that tens of millions of people have given their lives for.”