February 13, 2021
The two jailed brothers of Navid Afkari, the wrestler who was executed on September 12, 2020 amid international condemnation, have been banned from seeing their family.
Iran International News Network reported that Vahid and Habib Afkari have been pressured into saying they are refusing visits as part of a protest. A source with close links to the Afkari family told the news network that prison officials at Adelabad Prison in Shiraz banned the brothers from meeting with their family on Sunday, February 7, 2021, despite the family having arranged an appointment. They gave no reason for the punishment, though it is likely linked to the fact that at least one of the brothers has discussed details of their brother Navid’s treatment, and that this information has been shared publicly.
“Prison officials have falsely told their parents that Habib and Vahid do not want to meet with them,” the source said. “No matter how much the parents insisted, it was useless. They did not let them into the meeting room.”
On Monday, February 8, the family, along with their sons’ lawyers, went to Adelabad Prison again and asked the authorities to allow them to meet with Vahid and Habib. But the officials reportedly refused, stating that the Afkari brothers did not want to meet with their family.
Saeed Afkari, the other brother of the two political prisoners, wrote about his brothers’ alleged strike on Twitter. “My brothers Vahid and Habib Afkari have been on visit-strike to protest their five-month illegal detention in solitary confinement and numerous beatings, until they are returned to the general ward,” he posted on February 11. His apparent acknowledgment that the two men had refused visits was contradicted by his use of the hashtag #fear_of_prosecution, indicating without stating overtly that both provincial and national judicial officials were violating the law and applying pressure on his brothers, and that he held them responsible for the threats against them.
Fears For the Brothers’ Lives
Vahid and Habib Afkari were held in solitary confinement in Adelabad Prison more than five months after their brother’s execution. They were recently transferred from the basement of Adelabad Prison to another ward, but are still not being held in a public ward at the prison.
Habib and Navid Afkari’s parents are extremely concerned about their children’s health; authorities at Adelabad Prison have failed to provide adequate explanations for why they can’t see them, exacerbating their concerns.
“The fact that they do not give any explanation about the interruption of the meetings with Vahid and Habib has worried the family, [making them think] that the prison authorities might have harmed the inmates,” the source close to the Afkari family said. The family believes prison officials are trying to stall for time so that the traces of the beatings the prisoners have endured will fade.
The family’s lawyers have also gone to the prosecutor’s office to follow up on the suspension of the meetings, but they were told there wasn’t a problem and they should follow up on the matter in the coming days.
The source close to the Afkari family said when visits were allowed, they did not take place in the normal context and were held outside the prison building in portable cabins, most likely because they are not being held in a normal ward.
He added that in the five months since Navid Afkari’s execution, his brothers had also not been able to contact their families by phone.
Navid Afkari was detained for taking part in protests in July 2018, though there was no reliable evidence that he actually took part in the demonstrations. He was accused of the murder of a Shiraz intelligence agency official during the unrest, a charge that was believed to be fabricated because it was based on forced confessions. Navid’s brothers Habib and Vahid were arrested at the same time.
In the days leading up to Navid’s execution in September, the brothers were transferred to solitary confinement.
Vahid Afkari has revealed shocking details about his brother’s last hours. He told his family that Navid had been severely beaten by agents the night before he was executed.
He also said he had heard the sound of the platform being removed from under his brother’s feet, suggesting that prison officials tormented the two men by making them listen to their brother being executed.