Commenting on current reports about the critical state of health of Mohammad Ali Taheri, an Iranian national who has been imprisoned for five years, Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (8 November):
I am extremely concerned about the constantly deteriorating health of Mohammad Ali Taheri who has been on hunger strike for more than 40 days protesting against the ongoing delay in his release from prison and who has been denied contact to his family for three weeks.
It is evident that Taheri 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 upon Iran to release Mohammad Ali Taheri immediately now that he has served his prison sentence and until he is released to grant him unrestricted access to his family, his lawyers and to comprehensive medical care.
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 in October 2011 for "insulting the sacred". He was sentenced to death in a retrial in August 2015. According to Taheri’s lawyer, the Supreme Court overturned the death sentence in December 2015 in an appeal hearing and referred the case back to the Islamic Revolutionary Court. Taheri’s lawyer and his family had expected him to be released in February 2016 as by then he had served his five-year sentence.
It is believed that Taheri has been in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin prison without interruption since his arrest. On 28 September 2016, Mohammad Ali Taheri started his latest hunger strike in protest against the delay in his release. Since 16 October 2016, he has been denied contact to the outside world. According to informal information given to his lawyer, he went into a coma and was admitted to hospital in Tehran.