Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has signed a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, seeking his “immediate intervention” in preventing the execution of Iranian political prisoner, Mohammad Javad Vafaei-Sani, which is likely to be carried out in the “imminent future.”
Vafaei-Sani, a former boxing champion, took part in protests against the Tehran regime in 2019. Protests in Iran accelerated, in September 2022, when “morality police” killed Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman, for having allegedly not worn her headscarf as closely to her face as they had deemed necessary.
Following his arrest, in Mashad, the 27-year-old Vafaei-Sani was charged with “spreading corruption on Earth.” The Iranian Supreme Court struck down his death sentence, however another court re-instated the execution.
Klitschko’s letter noted that Vafaei-Sani was a “sympathizer of the Iranian opposition group, MEK.” Mojahedin e-Khalq, or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), is the major opposition organization against the Regime in Tehran.
During last year’s protests, the activists taking to the streets were often heard chanting “death to the oppressor, whether the Shah or Supreme Leader,” a slogan known to be used by MEK.
Klitschko, himself a former champion boxer, also mentioned martial artist Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, who was one of the several hundred Iranians recently executed.
Some outside observers have noted that the recent increase in executions is likely tied to the Iranian Regime wishing to have a “chilling effect” on future potential protests in the country. In recent years, several Iranian athletes have been executed, including famed wrestler Navid Afkari.
The executed athletes have generally been charged with charges, like “enmity against God,” or “spreading corruption on earth,” which are substantially vague enough to assure guilty verdicts by the courts.
During the last few decades, many MEK members, with some estimates ranging up to 30,000, have been executed for such loose charges.
In concluding his letter to the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Klitschko stated that he was joining “96 former UN officials, human rights and legal experts, and NGOs” in requesting urgent action on the case in question, and in standing with the Iranian people, “who deserve the fundamental rights of life and freedom in a democratic republic.”
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