Iran accused of sentencing dead man to death to cover up torture

Iran accused of sentencing dead man to death to cover up torture

Published by on February 23, 2016

According to a report published on the Telegraph website on Sunday, supporters of the Iranian faith healer, Mohammad Ali Taheri who was jailed for blasphemy and “touching the wrists of female patients” have accused Iran’s government of posthumously sentencing him to death to cover up his death from torture and hunger strike.

Mohammad Ali Taheri, an Iranian faith healer, reportedly died in prison and was then sentenced to death to cover it up

Mohammad Ali Taheri

By Ahmad Vahdat, and Colin Freeman – The Telegraph

Supporters of an Iranian faith healer who was jailed for blasphemy and “touching the wrists of female patients” have accused the country’s government of posthumously sentencing him to death to cover up his death from torture and hunger strike.

Mohammad Ali Taheri, a pioneer of “holistic” complementary medicine, initially received a five-year jail sentence. His case was among those raised last week by Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, after it was announced last weekend that he had later been sentenced to death by Iran’s “revolutionary court” on fresh charges of spreading “corruption on earth”.

US-based followers of his Circle of Unity organisation now claim to have learned from sources within Iran’s prison system that he actually starved himself to death as long as ago as January, but that the Iranian authorities then covered it up. The Iranian government insists he is still alive.

“I can confirm that Dr Mohammad Ali Taheri, the leader of our spiritual group has died while under torture and on hunger strike against his death penalty,” said Shahnaz Niroomanesh, the California-based director of Interuniversalist organisation, who said she had learned of his death from sources that earlier smuggled a jailcell letter from Mr Taheri to the UN. “The authorities have refrained from announcing the news to avoid a reaction from his supporters, the public and human rights organisations. Instead, they sentenced him to death in order to justify his announced death.”

Mr Taheri first established his “Circle of Unity” organisation as an arts and culture institute in Tehran more than a decade ago. It uses healing concepts and psycho-analysis based on a theory of “Inter-universalism”.

While his teachings might be regarded as eccentric even in the West, human rights group say the case against him shows that Iranian government is suspicious of anyone who gains a spiritual “following” other than its own Shia mullahs.

In May, after having been in Tehran’s Evin prison for three-and-a-half years, Mr Taheri was put on trial again for “corruption on earth,” a charge that carries the death penalty and for which he was earlier acquitted.

According to supporters of the group, Iran’s judiciary has been under pressure from several ultra-conservative ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard’s ideological branch to take a firm line against him and his group. Mr Taheri denies the charges against him.

The claims that Mr Taheri has died were denied by his court-appointed lawyer, Alizadeh Tabatabaee, who described them as a “sheer lie”. In a statement to the Daily Telegraph, his office said: “Some while ago he [Tabatabaee] met with him [Taheri] in the Court of Revolution and a video film of this meeting, which was produced without the knowledge of the lawyer and his client by the security forces, is available to view on the internet.”

Mr Taheri’s supporters say has never met with his court-appointed lawyers while in detention, including Mr Tabatabee, and that the video clip is a fake posted by a group connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.


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Dear Secretary General of United Nations,

The number of executions is rising in Iran, journalists are being detained for doing their job and activists face cruel and degrading punishments, long prison terms and even execution. According to the most recent reports by Amnesty International and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Iran’s judiciary continues to sentence child offenders to death, and carry out their execution by hanging”. Also, on August 9th, 2016 the son of late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s designated successor in 1988, published a shocking audio tape of his father’s meeting with the “Death Commission” which summarily and extra-judicially executed tens of thousands of political prisoners held in jails across Iran. The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader Khomeini.

We, the undersigned, hereby urge you to take up this issue and raise it in the General Assembly in order to;

1. Put pressure on Iran to immediately halt the executions and abolish death penalty in Iran.
2. Call on all Western governments to make any improvement in economic relations with Iran contingent on its human rights record.
3. Demand in its resolution on human rights violations in Iran, to bring the perpetrators of 1988 massacre (one of the worst atrocities the post-war world has ever seen – Geoffrey Robertson-QC) to justice before an international tribunal.

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