UFC President Dana White recently shared a video on his Twitter page asking government officials in Iran to not execute wrestler Navid Afkari. According to the New York Post, the prominent wrestler has been sentenced to death for participating in protests against the country’s government. Dana White claimed that after reading the article about Navid Afkari, he contacted US President Donald Trump who had also requested the Iran government to spare Navid Afkari’s life.
“To the leaders of Iran, I would greatly appreciate if you would spare this young man’s (Navid Afkari) life, and not execute him,” wrote Donal Trump on Twitter.
In the video, Dana White claimed that he decided to help Navid Afkari because he could be "one of us, he could be one of his fighters". Fans from all over the world requested the Government of Iran to let Navid Afkari live. Many Irani natives also responded to Dana White’s tweets, revealing the problems they have been facing almost every day. “Thanks for speaking about us Dana White. People of Iran are facing numerous problems at the time and will need all the help we can get,” wrote a fan.
Today’s report by @amnesty paints a grim picture of serious human rights violations in Iran following the 2019 protests. Support the call for a full investigation into the allegations. Freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly must be ensured. 1/2— Ann Linde (@AnnLinde) September 2, 2020
While Dana White claims that Navid Afkari was protesting peacefully, the wrestler was handed two death sentences over the murder of a security guard in Shiraz, Iran. However, various reports claim that the charges framed on Navid Afkari could be fake as “forced confessions under torture are very common” in the country. The New York Post also claims that apart from Navid Afkari, his brothers Vahid and Habib were sentenced to 54 and 27 years, respectively, in the same case. Navid Afkari’s lawyer recently took to Twitter and raised his voice against the government, claiming that there was no video footage to link the wrestler and his brothers with the murder.
According to the BBC, in 2018, several Iranian protesters took to the streets over ‘economic hardship and political repression’. The protests grew in size and turned violent when the government raised fuel prices. “More than 7,000 people, including children as young as 10, were arrested in the crackdown that followed the 2019 unrest,” according to Amnesty International.