Amnesty International has issued an urgent appeal to save the life of Iranian prisoner of conscience Mohammed Ali Taheri, who is facing execution by the regime for insulting Islam by forming his own religious group.
Mr Taheri was arrested in May 2011 and jailed for five years by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for 'spreading corruption on earth'.
He was also sentenced in a separate trial to five years behind bars, a 315,000 dollars fine and 74 lashes for 'insulting Islamic sanctities', 'committing a religiously forbidden act', which included touching 'non-relatives of the opposite sex', 'unlawful involvement in the medical treatment of patients' and publishing 'misleading writings'.
He has spent the past four years in solitary confinement in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, where he has gone on hunger strike 12 times and attempted suicide four times in protest at his prolonged isolation, lack of access to his family and lawyer, and repeated threats to kill him and his wife and children.
Amnesty added in a statement: "Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, protects 'the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion'.
"This right includes freedom to have or adopt a belief of one’s choice. It also includes freedom to manifest the belief in observance, practice and teaching, either individually or in community with others in public or private.
"Mohammad Ali Taheri introduced the spiritual doctrine of Erfan-e Halgheh after 13 years of receiving what he claims were 'spiritual inspirations' that empowered him to connect with a larger 'cosmic consciousness'.
"He lawfully opened a cultural and educational institute, also called Erfan-e Halgheh, in Tehran in 2006 to develop and disseminate his newly found spiritual beliefs, and practice them with his followers, in 'healing sessions' apparently focused on alternative non-medicinal treatments."
Source: NCRI, May 15, 2015
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