Authorities Conceal Location of Imprisoned Hunger-Striking Spiritual Thinker After He Slips Into a Coma
After three weeks on hunger strike, imprisoned spiritual thinker Mohammad Ali Taheri went into a coma and underwent emergency medical treatment on October 18, 2016, but the authorities are not revealing his location, his sister told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“Attorney Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaee told my brother’s wife on Wednesday (October 19) that [Mohammad Ali Taheri] had slipped into a coma on Tuesday and was transferred out of Evin Prison to Baghiatollah Hospital, but his relatives were not able to locate him there, and the prison officials are not saying anything about where he is,” said Azardokht Taheri. “If anything happens to him, we will hold them responsible.”
Mohammad Ali Taheri, the head of the banned Erfan-e Halgheh spiritual group, was supposed to be freed in March 2016 after serving a five-year prison sentence for “insulting the sacred,” “immoral contact with women” and “carrying out illegal medical procedures,” and went on hunger strike on September 29 to demand his freedom. While in prison he was accused of “blasphemy” for books he had previously published, and sentenced to death for spreading “corruption on earth,” but the Supreme Court overturned the sentence in December 2015.
“Mr. Taheri was supposed to call his family on Tuesday, as he does every Tuesday, but he didn’t,” Azardokht Taheri told the Campaign. “Then, on Wednesday, he did not show up for visitation with his wife, and prison officials said that he was not allowed to meet anyone that day. But they didn’t explain why.”
In a post published on his Facebook page on October 19, Tabatabaee said he had no “reliable information” about his client’s condition, adding that there was no legal justification for Taheri’s continued incarceration.
Mohammad Ali Taheri had already been severely weakened by another hunger strike in 2015, which he endured for more than two months despite pleas by his concerned relatives to break it.
“After Mohammad’s 58th day on hunger strike, his relatives visited him on October 7, 2015, in Evin Prison,” said Azardokht Taheri in an interview with the Campaign in October 2015. “They said he has become extremely thin and did not look well at all. They said he has become like a skeleton.”
Iran’s security establishment continues to persecute Taheri and supporters of the Erfan-e Halgheh spiritual group, viewing it and any other alternative belief system, especially those seeking converts, as a threat to the prevailing Shia order.