Mohammad Ali Taheri Resumes Hunger Strike
February 17, 2016
Iran’s Supreme Court quashed Mohammad Ali Taheri’s death sentence in December and returned his case to the Revolutionary Court to order further investigation. He is now in his fifth year of solitary confinement, and has begun a new hunger strike in protest.
Mohammad Ali Taheri started a hunger strike on 30 January after the authorities in Section 2A of Tehran’s Evin Prison, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards, told him that “he must get the thought of being released out of his mind”. After seven days on hunger strike, he lost consciousness and was transferred to a hospital: he was returned to prison on 10 February. He has continued his hunger strike despite his fragile health.
Mohammad Ali Taheri has been in pre-trial solitary confinement since May 2011. He has been charged with several offences, including “spreading corruption on earth” and also “insulting Islamic sanctities”, for which a Revolutionary Court sentenced him in October 2011 to five years in prison, but said further investigations were necessary before it could rule on the first charge. The Revolutionary Guards subsequently resumed their investigations, pending which the pre-trial detention in solitary confinement was repeatedly extended. Mohammad Ali Taheri was ultimately sentenced to death in July 2015 for “spreading corruption on earth” through establishing a spiritual group called Erfan-e Halgheh and promoting beliefs and practices which the authorities said were “perverse” and advanced a “soft overthrow” of the government by weakening people’s religious convictions. The Supreme Court quashed the death sentence in December 2015, holding that the definition of “spreading corruption on earth” was not met under the criminal laws in force at the time of his activities. The case has now been returned to the prosecutorial authorities to conduct further investigations that could potentially support the charge. On 7 February 2016, the five-year prison sentence was considered complete taking into account the pre-trial detention, which continues to date.
Please write immediately in Persian, English or your own language:
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have conducted numerous criminal investigations into Mohammad Ali Taheri’s spiritual teachings and practices since early 2010, and he was indicted in July 2011 on several charges: “spreading corruption on earth”; “insulting Islamic sanctities”; “interfering in medical affairs and patients’ treatments”; committing haram [religiously forbidden] acts” and “having illicit relations” through touching the wrists of “unrelated” (namahram) women; “producing and distributing illegal audiovisual materials”; “earning illegitimate funds” and using academic titles unlawfully. Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran ruled in November 2011 that further investigations were needed to provide support for the charge of “spreading corruption on earth”, but convicted Mohammad Ali Taheri of the other six charges and sentenced him to five years in prison for “insulting Islamic sanctities”, 74 lashes for “having illicit relations” and fines of different amounts for the other four charges. The conviction of “insulting Islamic sanctities” was based on allegations that Mohammad Ali Taheri had claimed that there were contradictions in the Quran and that Prophet Mohammad had not understood the meaning of his own words. Mohammad Ali Taheri has consistently denied these allegations, saying that he is a “devout Muslim”. The sentence was upheld by Branch 54 of the Provincial Appeal Court of Tehran in May 2012.