Mohammad Ali Taheri on Hunger Strike to Protest Three Years of Solitary Confinement
A student of Mohammad Ali Taheri, the founder of Interuniversal Consciousness Theory, who has been in prison since 2011, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that Taheri has embarked on a dry hunger strike (refusing both food and water) since last week to protest 3.5 years in solitary confinement inside the IRGC’s Ward 2-A at Evin Prison, as well as for interrogations that have been ongoing since 2011 on additional charges against him of “corruption on earth.” The new charges carry a possible death sentence.
The source added that Mohammad Ali Taheri was transferred to Rajaee Hospital on November 16, 2014, for treatment necessitated by his dry hunger strike, but that he was returned to the prison on November 20, before treatment was completed.
“The [new] charge of ‘corruption on earth’ [has been] in his case since 2011…but how much time does the interrogator in the case need to complete his interrogations about this charge? Interrogating a prisoner cannot last 3.5 years, while he is serving time for his other charges,” said Shahnaz Niroomanesh, the former student of Taheri’s and Head of the International Campaign to Defend Mohammad Ali Taheri.
Taheri has faced prolonged isolation and much harsher prison conditions during these past three years because of the authorities’ refusal to transfer him out of Evin’s Ward 2-A and into the General Ward, while they continue their “investigations” into the additional charges.
“Now we are worried that his charge of ‘corruption on earth’ is upheld; we also worry about his physical and psychological health inside solitary confinement at Evin,” Taheri’s former student told the Campaign.
Mohammad Ali Taheri established “Erfan-e Halgheh,” an arts and culture institute in Tehran during the 2000’s, and, using healing concepts, treated patients with psychological and medical conditions. Taheri was arrested in 2010 on charges of “acting against national security” and was held in solitary confinement for 67 days before he was released.
He was arrested again on May 4, 2011, and after three court sessions, on October 30, 2011, Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to five years in prison for “blasphemy,” to 74 lashes for “touching the wrists of female patients,” and 900 million toman in fines (approximately $300,000) for “interfering in medical science,” “earning illegitimate funds,” and “distribution of audio-visual products and use of academic titles.”
“He had a new narrative on spirituality. He held weekly classes and the number of his followers gradually grew. He also had healing powers with which he treated patients, but apparently these things were not appreciated by the Intelligence Ministry,” said Shahnaz Niroomanesh.
“From those very first days, plainclothes intelligence agents showed up in his classes. Later, they made suggestions to Mr. Taheri, such as telling him to stop telling people about his spiritual powers, and to [stop offering] treatment to the public under the name of inspiration from the Holy Imams. Mr. Taheri never accepted these suggestions,” added Niroomanesh.
“After his verdict was announced, Mr. Taheri was not transferred to the General Ward, and spent the entire 3.5 years in solitary cells inside IRGC’s Ward 2-A. During this time, only a few other prisoners were sent to share his cell for a short time,” said Taheri’s former student.
In an April 2014 open letter addressed to Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Mohammad Ali Taheri asked the Special Rapporteur to review his case.