Iran reportedly will be executing yet another champion wrestler shortly. According to a report in Jerusalem Post, the Iranian regime has found star wrestler Mehdi Ali Hosseini guilty of murder during a brawl in 2015. The news comes just months after Iran executed another champion wrestler Navid Afkari for his role in protesting the regime's corruption.
Afkari's execution drew immense criticism globally and even a high-profile international campaign calling to spare his life didn't help much. The news of Hosseini's planned execution once again reflects Iran regime's desperate need for stepping up repression. Despite these executions of political prisoners, the regime hasn't succeeded in stemming the growing tide of popular unrest and people's uprising in the Islamic country.
Hosseini, 29, who comes from the city of Andimeshk in the province of Khuzestan, was arrested in 2015. According to Jerusalem Post, the wrestler has now been found guilty of murder during a group brawl and in all likelihood will be executed any day. However, there has been no official confirmation from Iran's state media, which isn't surprising given the regime's authoritarian policies.
Hosseini's family members reportedly told Persian-language website of Deutsche Welle, a German state-owned international broadcaster, that his execution is imminent and they have resigned to their fate as the victim's family has decided not to pardon the wrestler for the alleged murder.
Tehran has previous form for posturing that a defendant who has been condemned to death still has a right of appeal, only to enforce a peremptory sentence amid family shock and bewilderment. This makes Hosseini's execution almost unavoidable.
Silencing another Voice
Much like Afkari, Hosseini's execution too has already sparked outrage in the international community, with several activists claiming that he has been subject to unfair trial. The scene is somewhat the same in Iran also. Hamid Sourian, Iranian gold medalist Greco-Roman wrestler at the 2012 London Olympics and vice president of the Iranian Wrestling Federation, has called for stopping Hosseini's execution by all means.
He has also appealed to the victim's family to reconsider their decision and pardon Hossseini. "I beg Dr. Gholami Gheibi, who is one of the prominent doctors in Dezful, as the father of the victim, to please God" rescind the death penalty, he reportedly said.
Cameron Khansarinia, policy director for the National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI), a nonpartisan organization of Iranian-Americans, told The Jerusalem Post that the International Olympic Committee should immediately take action against the regime in Tehran for its bloody assault against athletes, which it has so far refused despite coordinated campaign by Iranian athletic champions.
"The regime should be banned from all Olympic and international sports activities until it stops murdering athletes and lifts its gender apartheid laws toward female athletes and fans" Khansarinia said.
News of Hosseini's planned execution comes less than four months after Afkari was executed after being convicted of stabbing to death a security guard during anti-government protests in 2018.
Afkari was a political prisoner and the Iran regime reportedly tortured him repeatedly over the past two years in prison and obtained forced confessions. At that time, some decorated Iranian wrestlers protested on social media against Afkari's planned execution. However, what appears to be the regime's pressure, the athletes since then have almost stopped their social-media protests.