Commenting on current reports about the critical state of health of Mohammad Ali Taheri, an Iranian national sentenced to death, Christoph Strässer, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (19 October):
I am extremely concerned about the steadily deteriorating health of Mohammad Ali Taheri, who has been on hunger strike for more than 60 days in protest against his death sentence.
It is evident that he was convicted solely on the grounds of his world-view and his religious teachings. His conviction is thus a blatant violation of the human right to freedom of religion and belief, which Iran undertook to respect and protect under international law.
I call on Iran to rescind the death sentence against Mohammad Ali Taheri immediately and to grant him unrestricted access to his family, his lawyers and full medical care until his release.
Mohammad Ali Taheri, the founder of the spiritual educational and cultural movement Erfan‑e‑Halgheh (Mysticism of the Ring) was arrested in May 2011 and initially sentenced to five years’ imprisonment as well as 74 lashes and a fine. He was sentenced to death in a re‑trial in August 2015.
According to reports by human rights organisations, numerous procedural deficiencies were noted during the trial. It was stated, for example, that Taheri was denied contact with his lawyers. The current state of the proceedings is unknown. It is believed that he has been in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin prison without interruption since his arrest. On 13 August 2015, Mohammad Ali Taheri started his latest hunger strike in protest against his conviction and his lack of access to his lawyers.