Non-governmental human rights organizations announced the death sentence for boxer Muhammad Javad Fafaei Thani in Iran for his role in the 2019 protests, 15 months after the execution of a wrestler whose case sparked international opinion.
Mohammad Javad Vafaei Thani, 26, was sentenced to death for setting fires and destroying government buildings, according to the Norway-based Iranian human rights organization IHR.
The organization said that Muhammad Jawad Fafaei II was imprisoned in February 2020, after participating in demonstrations in November 2019, in protest against a sudden increase in fuel prices.
Babak Baknia, the boxer’s lawyer, confirmed the ruling on Twitter and announced his intention to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The organization described Vafaei Thani as a “champion” in boxing in the eastern city of Mashhad, where he is currently detained.
A hashtag appeared on Twitter with the phrase “#SaveMohammadJavad”, which calls on the authorities to save Jawad from death.
According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political wing of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, both of which are banned in Iran, Vafaei Thani, a junior boxing champion, is accused of supporting the PMOI, according to his report.
His case recalls the fate of 27-year-old wrestler Naveed Afkari, who was hanged in September 2020 despite international condemnation and calls to ban Iran from participating in sports matches.
Afkari, who won national competitions, had been executed for murder committed during protests two years earlier. He confirmed that his confessions were extracted under torture.
His two brothers, Habib and Waheed, are still in prison, in solitary confinement, according to activists.
The “United for Navid” group, which includes its supporters, called on the American Boxing Association “USA Wrestling” to cancel an invitation scheduled next month for Iranian wrestlers to participate in a friendly tournament.
Iran executes more people every year than any other country except China.
Human rights activists are concerned about a marked increase in executions by hanging in 2021, after their recent decline.
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