TEHRAN: Iranian security forces on Thursday arrested ex-national football player Voria Ghafouri over accusations that he spread “propaganda” against the Islamic republic, Fars news agency reported.

He was detained after a training session with his club Foolad Khuzestan on charges of having “tarnished the reputation of the national team and spread propaganda against the state,” the agency said.

Ghafouri, 35, was listed as a member of Iran’s 2018 World Cup squad but was not named in the final lineup playing at this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Originally from the Kurdish-populated city of Sanandaj in western Iran, Ghafouri had posted a photo of himself on Instagram dressed in traditional Kurdish dress.

UN rights council orders probe into crackdown on protests

Iran has seen more than two months of demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian Mahsa Amini, after she was arrested for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women. The protests have swelled into a broad movement against the ruling theocracy.

Ghafouri was formerly the captain of Iran’s leading club Esteghlal before his contract was terminated and he moved to Foolad Khuzestan.

Many fans suggested the ending of his career with Esteghlal was revenge for speaking out in support of earlier protests that erupted this summer. Others argued that in his mid-30s Ghafouri was already too old for the Iranian top flight.

Demand to end deadly crackdown

The bloody repression of peaceful demonstrators in Iran must end, the UN rights chief insisted on Thursday, as countries discussed launching an investigation into Tehran’s deadly crackdown.

Volker Turk opened an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council, where countries were called to discuss Iran’s “deteriorating human rights situation” and determine if a high-level international investigation is warranted. The meeting, requested by Germany and Iceland with the backing of more than 50 countries, follows two months of protests in Iran.

“I call on the authorities immediately to stop using violence and harassment against peaceful protesters,” Turk said, in his first address to the council since becoming the United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights last month. “The unnecessary and disproportionate use of force must come to an end,” he said, warning that Iran was in “a full-fledged human rights crisis”. He urged the 47-member council to vote in favour of an investigation.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2022

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