By INTERNATIONAL WORKERS LEAGUE-FI
Dec. 17, 2022— A few days before the World Cup finals in Qatar, a piece of news has made an impact inside and outside the world of soccer: the Iranian player Amir Nasr-Azadani has been sentenced to death by the Ayatollahs’ regime. If the sentence is not reversed, he may be executed for defending elementary women’s rights and demanding basic democratic freedoms in his country.
The 26-year-old former player for the Rah-Ahan, Tractor and Gol-e Rayhan football teams, was charged with a crime called moharebeh (“enmity against God”) for allegedly being involved in the death of Colonel Esmaeil Cheraghi and two other members of the paramilitary Basij force during the protests. This charge is absurd, since Amir Nasr-Azadani was never near the area where these repressors of the Iranian people were killed. The conviction, in reality, is because the young player actively participated in the immense wave of protests against the Iranian theocratic dictatorship.
The penalty is hanging, the same method by which two young men, both 23 years old, Mohsen Shekari and Majid Reza Rahnavard, were killed for their participation in the demonstrations that began in September following the assassination of Mahsa Amini. The execution was carried out in public, with official media broadcasting.
Amir Nasr-Azadani’s case gained global prominence when Fifpro, the global professional players’ association, echoed his plight: “Fifpro is shocked and sickened by reports that professional footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani faces execution in Iran after campaigning for women’s rights and basic freedoms in his country. We stand in solidarity with Amir and call for the immediate removal of his punishment.”
From the IWL-FI, we strongly reject the sentencing of Amir Nasr-Azadani. We reject the executions of Mohsen Shekari and Majid Reza Rahnavard, and the imprisonment of hundreds of youth and demonstrators in Iran.
We stand in solidarity with the protests in Iran to overthrow the dictatorial-theocratic regime of the Ayatollahs; we defend the fight for democratic freedoms and women’s rights, pointing to the perspective of a working-class and socialist solution.
The campaign for the elimination of the sentence against Amir Nasr-Azadani must be taken up by all the workers’, trade-union, and student organizations, and all those who claim to be democratic defenders of human rights and of the left.
The repercussion in the world of soccer must be very strong. It is necessary to put pressure from below; nothing can be expected from FIFA or from the governments. Soccer should stop for Amir Nasr-Azadani. Tomorrow’s [Dec. 18] final itself, between France and Argentina, should be suspended to make this cause visible.
We join the Change.org petition to stop the execution, which already has almost 400,000 signatures. We call on everyone to sign and to express, in various ways, strong solidarity with the protests shaking Iran.
Link to sign the petition: https://bit.ly/3Wrjqi0