As protests continue to rock Iran three months into a wave of nationwide unrest, watching the so-called revolution are many Iranians who fled the country – among them, a judoka who called on Israel to continue supporting his people.
Iranian authorities have executed two young protestors so far in connection to the ongoing anti-regime movement triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country's vice police for wearing her hijab incorrectly.
Nine others arrested in connection with the protests have been sentenced to death, some 400 protesters have been handed lengthy prison sentences of up to 10 years, and thousands others are detained.
“The brave Iranian people are not sitting quietly, we have started a new revolution in Iran,” Alireza Bahranifard, a former member of the Iranian national Judo team, told i24NEWS from Germany, where he is now a refugee.
“I am very concerned for my family. My father is in prison because of me, the authorities are asking my family about me,” he said. “I can’t connect with them because the Islamic Republic has filtered all social media. They’re afraid of the facts.”
Days into the protests, Iranian authorities imposed drastic internet restrictions – including blocking access to Instagram and WhatsApp – and a month later it was reported that Iranian citizens saw a “major disruption” in internet services.
“On behalf of the people of Iran, I request the Israeli government and people to support my people, don’t leave us alone, we really need your support,” Bahranifard continued. “I’m a sportsman, but when I hear what’s happening, I have no motivation to train, I just think about my people.”
“Iranian and Israeli people have a great friendship and solidarity. Please don’t leave the people alone,” he urged, noting that he plans to take part in an international judo competition next year in Israel, where he “has many friends” and knows “all the national team guys.”