The signatories of this petition:
1. demand that the members of the European Council and the Parliaments of Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and Congress in the the United States, condemn the impartial stance of the International Olympic Committee (the “IOC”) towards the ideologic and discriminatory atmosphere of sports in Iran; and
2. demand that the IOC call out the Islamic Regime in Iran to answer for any form of discrimination it perpetrates against athletes; and
3. call on Thomas Bach, the IOC’s president to require that the Iranian regime lift the dress restrictions imposed upon women in gymnastics, wrestling, boxing, water polo, swimming, diving, equestrian and cycling and enable them to participate in any IOC approved sports attire of their choice in all International and Olympic competitions like all other female athletes globally.
Iran’s Ministry of Sports and National Olympic Committee forces Iranian female athletes to wear Islamic attire by order of the Iranian regime. Iranian athletes in national teams participating in various continental and world competitions and the Olympics, are forced to wear Islamic outfits. This is discrimination, contrary to the Olympic Charter, which Thomas Bach is expected to stand against.
The previous and current head of Iran’s National Olympic Committee and many members of its board of directors that hold various positions by engineered elections are all either politicians in the ideological Iranian regime or members of the Ministry of Intelligence or the Revolutionary Guard Corps that have been involved in the crackdown on people’s protests.
The IOC, therefore has the responsibility not to remain impartial towards what goes on in Iran’s sports where it is a governing body with jurisdiction in international sports and should prohibit the head and members of the Iranian National Olympic Committee from attending the Olympics and International competitions should they not abide by Fundamental Principles of Olympism.
Stadium doors for Iranian women to watch men’s games are closed and men are not allowed to attend women’s sports competitions in stadiums. The official stance of the IOC and International sports federations with regards to this issue is extremely important.
Many LGBTQs and non-Shiites, especially the Bahai athletes and even Afghan children born in Iran, are banned from participating in national and world sports competitions by categoric denial of their memberships in national teams. Also, Iranian referees and Iranian athletes since the outset of the reign of the Islamic Republic have been prohibited from competeing against Israeli counterparts. The most recent instance was in the Karate, Badminton and Wrestling championships that became sports news headlines without reaction or reprimand from the related International sports federations. Omission of minorities from Iranian sports and hostility towards Israel are issues that require the full attention from the IOC and International Sports Federations.
A director of the Athlete365 of the IOC in Lausanne Kaveh Mehrabi is among Iranian athletes that refused to compete against an Israeli counterpart. His presence as the director of the Athlete365 must be clarified by the IOC.
Athletes are among the many who have been arrested, tortured and executed in recent street protests led by women demanding freedom. The IOC cannot turn a blind eye to this discrimination, suppression and corruption that have cast a shadow on Iran’s sports and the ability of the IOC to consequently moderate.
Athletes who Took to the Streets to Gain Their Human Dignity, were Arrested, Tortured or Executed
Navid Afkari, an Iranian wrestler who participated in street protests against the regime, was executed on September 12, 2020, and the international sports community, including the UWW, treated it with indifference.
Mohammad Mehdi Karami was a 21-year-old young karate medalist and a participant in the anti-government demonstrations. According to allegations by the Islamic Republic’s judicial system, he and 15 others were involved in the death of a Basiji man. Karami was sentenced to death in a hasty trial without a lawyer and was executed in prison on January 7, 2023. The World Karate Federation’s deadly silence towards Karami’s fate sparked a wave of disgust among coaches and athletes.
Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini, who chose to be called Kian, meaning “land”, was another liberalist opposing the Islamic regime in Iran. He was also convicted of involvement in the murder of an oppressive Basiji. After Karami, he was the second defendant, also hanged on January 7, 2023 together with Mohammad Mehdi Karami. Kian was a Kung fu instructor and only forty years old when executed.
Majid Reza Rahnavard was a wrestler who objected the ideology of the Islamic Republic regime. He was also sentenced to death on charge of clashes with two oppressive Basiji men that led to the death of the two, as alleged by the judicial system. Majid Rahnavard was also denied the right to a lawyer and was executed after a hasty trial. He was only twenty three years old and had tattooed the Iranian flag’s symbol, the Lion and Sun on his arm. In his will, Majid asked for no mourning or reciting of the Quran over his grave.
Mahbanu Khoshnoudi Kia is also among protesting athletes in Iran. She is 27 years old and a runner-up in Asian Women’s Archery Championships. She came to the streets on December 9, 2022 during civil protests of the people of Kermanshah and lost her left eyesight the result of shootings by Basij forces affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In a statement on her Instagram page she said that in realization of her aspiration, she does not regret coming to the streets.
Amir Nasr Azadani is a former football player of Tabriz Tractor Sazi football team. He was arrested in the anti-government protests in Isfahan. Iran’s judiciary has announced without reliable evidence and proofs that Amir Nasr Azadani was involved in the murder of a police force colonel and two Basiji men. He is also accused of membership in a an armed network that was active in threatening the country’s national security. After being sentenced to 26 years in prison, Amir Nasr Azadani said in a voice message, broadcast by CNN: “voice to my friends and football teammates about my conditions so that one day we can be together again. I hope in God first and then in you who are outside.”
Eshraq Najafabadi is an Iranian athlete and a former member of the Iranian national cycling team. During the Iranian people’s revolutionary uprising, he was arrested along with Khashayar Nikbakht, Maryam Sadaghiani, Hessam Mousavi and Amir Arslan Mahdavi, all Iranian cycling athletes. A video of him and four of his friends in forced confessions was broadcast by Islamic Republic affiliated media, in which they have been accused of attempts to plan bombing attacks in Shiraz.
Mohammad Ahmadzadeh, the captain of Iran’s National Beach Football team together with Saeed Piramoon and Mostafa Kiani, supported the Iranian people’s revolutionary uprising and displayed a symbolic gesture of cutting his hair in the Intercontinental Cup in the UAE. He was later expelled from the national team. He wrote on his Instagram page: “… of course,I am happy that I made the best choice and stood by my people.”
Elnaz Rekabi, a brave sport climber who refused to wear the Islamic hijab in the Asian competitions in solidarity with Iranian women protestors. On October 16, 2022, after she participated in the Asian championships in South Korea without a hijab, the security police of the national sport climbing team (the ideological police that accompanies national teams of the Islamic Republic of Iran in overseas competitions) took Elnaz under special security measures to the Iranian embassy in Seoul to bring her back to Tehran on the first flight the next day. It was said that her passport and mobile phone were seized. Meanwhile, his brother was detained by the security forces to make Elnaz return to Iran. When she was flying to Iran, a story published on her Instagram, confirmed the athlete has return to Iran, also stating that her hijab fell off inadvertently. Although Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee, had a video call with Elnaz to make sure of her health after her transfer to Iran, but at the same time, her family was also put under pressure and the Iranian Sport Climbing Federation that had a guarantee check from Elnaz for 10 billion Rials, was also a potential threat.
Khaled Pirzadeh, the Iranian bodybuilding champion and a supporter of monarchy, was arrested by IRGC agents on May 26, 2019 and sentenced to seven years in prison in Tehran Revolutionary Court led by justice Moghiseh, on charges of “gathering crowds and conspiracy in disrupting the country’s security” and “insulting the Leader”. The verdict was again confirmed in the court of appeals. In December 2022, in an audio file from prison, addressing Javaid Rahman, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, he explained that he became crippled and on a wheelchair as a result of torture and lost his urinary control. Khaled Pirzadeh was released from prison and admitted to hospital because of the severity of his injuries.
Voria Ghafouri, the former captain of Esteghlal football team (Taj), along with Ali Daei and Ali Karimi, is a popular figure among Iranian people. He was arrested during the revolutionary uprising of the Iranian people that began with the death of Mahsa Amini, and released on bail after a while. Voria Ghafouri’s reaction to the banning of women into sports stadiums and the self-immolation of Sahar Khoyayari, was admired by many human rights activists. He also condemned the downing of the Ukrainian airplane by the IRGC missiles and expressed condolences to the families of the victims, accusing the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting of spreading lies; and demanded its perpetrators to be brought to justice. His position on Iran’s socio-political situation led to his removal from national, Esteghlal and Foulad teams.
Saleh Mirhashmi, a karate coach was arrested on November 16, 2022 street protests of Isfahan and sentenced to death on January 9, 2023 by the Isfahan Revolutionary Court on charge of Moharebeh (waging war against God and state). Denying the shooting accusation, he told the court that he did not shoot any officer and had no possession of a weapon on the day of the incident. In the videos released in the last two months also, there are no signs of shooting or carrying weapons. After Saleh Mirhashmi was arrested, the security forces have repeatedly searched his house for evidence. In the recently released audio file, he tells his mother on a call from prison that he had no role in the incident and did not even throw a firecracker. He states that other defendants testifying against him in court, later told him that they were threatened to confess against him.
Borhan Eliasi, a Chinese boxing (Sanda) athlete, took to the streets in Javanrood in protest to the policies of the Iranian regime in the clamp down of protesters and was killed at gun point by the repressive forces. He was only 22 years old.o
Mohammad Ghaemifar, the goalkeeper of Omid football team of Jundishapour, was targeted by the repressive forces of the Islamic Republic on October 22, 2022, in a dead-end alley in Dezful. The officers shot him in the head from the back. Over 40 pellets were shot to his skull and neck and he fell to the ground. He died fifteen days later in the hospital.
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