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Iran Sentences to Death Founder of Spiritual Movement

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The U.S. State Department is “deeply concerned” about a death sentence handed down to an Iranian who founded a spiritual movement based on interuniversalist alternative medicine.

Mohammad Ali Taheri was sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court on charges of “corruption on earth.”

"It is our understanding that Taheri, who has been held in Evin Prison in solitary confinement since his October 2011 conviction on charges of 'insulting Islamic sanctities,' received this sentence in response to his peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression. To sentence a citizen to death for exercising these freedoms represents an extreme violation of his rights," said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner in a statement.

"We also are disturbed that a number of the movement’s followers reportedly have been sentenced to prison terms for similarly vague so-called crimes. The ability of citizens to exercise their rights of freedom of religion and expression are fundamental principles of universally-recognized human rights enshrined in international law," he said.

"We call on the Iranian Government to rescind Taheri’s death sentence and accord him full due process and to uphold freedom of expression and belief for its citizens," he added.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also expressed alarm over the charges and sentence levied against Taheri.

“Iran’s use of the death penalty has long been problematic, with many executions on drug offences, several executions of people who were below the age of 18 when the crime was committed, as well as other cases where broad, ill-defined charges led to the imposition of capital punishment,” Zeid said.

A statement issued by the high commissioner’s officer said that "Iran has reportedly executed more than 600 individuals so far this year. Last year, at least 753 people were executed in the country."

Sources inside Iran say since the signing of the nuclear agreement with the world’s superpowers, the regime has embarked upon an increased program of human-rights abuses with impunity.

Last week, Iran boasted in state-run media it had amputated the right hands and left feet of two prisoners. In addition, a sentence was handed down to a man to have his eyes gouged out.  Two women were hanged in prison, one a 43-year-old mother.

Also last week, women chained to men were paraded in the street as punishment for social dissent.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org