Amir Nasr-Azadani: Team-mate of Iranian footballer who faces the death penalty speaks out | football news

Amir Nasr-Azadani: Team-mate of Iranian footballer who faces the death penalty speaks out | football news

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A former team-mate of Iranian footballer Amir Nasr-Azadani, who faces the death penalty for taking part in nationwide protests, told Sky News his friend was a “shy person” and “really friendly”.

Sebastian Strandvall said from Finland, where he is now captain of the top division VPS Vaasa: “Amir was one of the young people in our team back then, he was 19-20 years old at the time, quite shy and really nice… a normal, good one Guy.”

Nasr-Azadani, 26, was arrested last month as anti-regime demonstrations swept through Iran. He was found guilty of the murder of a police officer and two militia officers in a trial that human rights groups have called a sham.

Amir Nasr-Azadani

Image: Amir Nasr-Azadani

Local news reports suggest his confession was coerced by ordering family members to remain silent.

His former teammate says the court ruling that found Nasr-Azadani guilty of “war against God” is absurd. Execution is one of several possible outcomes of this crime.

“If you know Amir’s character, he would go to a protest … he and his friends would stand up for basic rights, women’s rights of course, because he’s the kind of person who cares about others. But I don’t see him doing a war against God or anything,” Strandvall said.

The two played side by side at Tehran’s Rah-Ahan FC in the 2015/16 season and Strandvall even offered him a place to stay when the young Iranian couldn’t find a place to stay.

“It feels so far from reality”

The Finnish player says his friend may have attended the demonstrations but doesn’t think he would commit an act of violence.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling of shock, it’s hard to grasp that it actually is, because it feels so far from reality that someone could face the death penalty for taking part in a peaceful protest.” , he said.

Amir and Sebastian train

Image: Sebastian Strandvall (centre) and Amir Nasr-Azadani during training

Amir Nasr-Azadani

Little is known about Nasr-Azadani’s condition, but a German MP is working to make people aware of his plight.

Andreas Larem, who sponsored Nasr-Azadani on December 15, told Sky News that he had written to the Iranian ambassador to Germany in Berlin asking for immediate help from the German foreign ministry to release Nasr-Azadani.

“He should still have some hope, he should know that we stand by him and that we’re really pushing on every side where we can to get him out and his friends who are also in prison to get out of this situation and I would like to see him and meet him in Germany.”

Protests are “a nationwide phenomenon”

As the clerics who rule Iran are challenged in the streets, their forces become increasingly violent as they attempt to preserve the regime.

Daily protests in Iran have entered their fourth straight month and show little sign of abating. The majority may be concentrated in the Kurdish region of Iran and the capital, Tehran, but they are a nationwide phenomenon.

Fueled by a range of grievances, including stifling restrictions on women’s clothing, participants are calling for the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to be ousted, along with the aging mullahs who support him.

Amir Nasr-Azadani

In response, police units and the Revolutionary Guards (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) have been beating those who resist the state.

Protesters have been beaten and shotgunned – and in recent days the government has started executing protesters.

Trials are a “sham”

Last week Majidreza Rahnavard, believed to be 23 years old, was publicly hanged from the end of a construction crane. Rahnavard has been accused of “waging war against God” after allegedly stabbing two members of the pro-government militia.

Human rights groups and Western governments have labeled the process a sham.

According to Amnesty International, more than two dozen demonstrators face the death penalty.

As police struggle to contain this youthful rebellion, analysts accuse the regime of targeting figures such as footballers, actors and writers – anyone with the power to influence others.

Actress Taraneh Alidoosti

Image: Actress Taraneh Alidoosti

Iran’s most famous actress, Taraneh Alidoosti, was arrested last week after she condemned the state’s use of the death penalty against protesters.

The 38-year-old is best known for her role in the Oscar-winning 2016 film The Salesman.

Despite her international profile, she has vowed not to leave Iran.

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