Reports from Iran have indicated that 15 people were arrested and several women were beaten up during a protest rally in Tehran demanding the release of prisoner Mohammad Ali Taheri.
The protest, which took place on October 21 outside Tehran’s Baghiyatollah Hospital, was raided by security forces who also struck a woman on the head with batons until she became unconscious, said eyewitnesses. The woman’s child was then arrested.
Mr. Taheri, who was an Iranian spiritual teacher, has been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison for more than five years; he was arrested in 2011 for “insulting Islamic sanctities” by establishing the mystical inter-religious doctrine Erfan-e Halgheh and its accompanying organization. In June 2016, Taheri was acquitted of a second charge of “spreading corruption on earth” for which he had previously been sentenced to death.
Last week, Amnesty International released a statement urging action to ensure Taheri’s well-being after it was revealed that a hunger strike he began in September had left him in critical condition. Contact with his family had been cut off since October 16.
“His family have said that his main interrogator and a masked man entered his cell on the fifth day of his hunger strike, took him to an interrogation room, and put him under pressure to give video-recorded “confessions”,” said the statement.
“They have said that he was beaten when he resisted…[Taheri] started his latest hunger strike in protest at the authorities’ refusal to release him even though he had completed serving his five-year prison sentence, which had been imposed on him for ‘insulting Islamic sanctities’…”
Taheri’s family have visited various prison and judicial officials to ask about his health and whereabouts but have received no further information.
“Judicial officials appear to have informally told his lawyers that Mohammad Ali Taheri lost consciousness on the night of 18 October and was transferred to a Tehran hospital where the Revolutionary Guards frequently take people who are in their custody and hospitalize them under pseudonyms,” said a report by the People’s Mojahiden Organization of Iran (PMOI).
“This information, however, has not been confirmed to his family. ”
In February, watchdog groups became concerned that Taheri’s health and physical appearance had deteriorated after another hunger strike while in prison and called for his transfer to a medical facility, which had apparently been stonewalled by Iranian authorities.