Please add your voice to those of human rights groups and HIV/AIDS advocates around the world who are urging Iran to free two Iranian doctors, Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei -- HIV/AIDS leaders who have reportedly been detained without charge and held incommunicado in Iran. The physicians, who are brothers, were reportedly arrested at the end of June, 2008.
Physicians for Human Rights (where two weeks ago, I took a position as Chief Communications Officer) has issued a statement and posted an online petition calling on the government of Iran "either to charge these physicians and provide them with access to counsel and family, or release them immediately so that they can continue their important medical and public health work for the betterment of the people of Iran and the world."
Please sign the petition and circulate it widely on behalf of our colleagues at risk.
'Provide Them Access to Lawyers and Their Family'
The US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) expressed concern Wednesday over the reported detention by the Iranian government of two Iranian doctors known for their pioneering work on HIV/AIDS.
It has written to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, asking that Tehran either charge the brothers Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei or release them. They were apparently arrested at the end of June.
"We appeal to your government to disclose their whereabouts, to provide them access to lawyers and to their family, and either to charge them with an internationally recognised crime or release them immediately," PHR chief executive Frank Donaghue said in the letter to the Iranian leader. "We sincerely hope that their disappearance has been a mistake and that they will soon return to their loved ones," Donaghue said.
Dr. Kamiar Alaei is a doctoral candidate at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health, where he is expected to resume his studies this fall. In 2007, he received Master of Science in Population and International Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.
His brother Arash is the former Director of the International Education and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.
The Drs. Alaei's work has addressed the most disadvantaged populations and patients in the country. Since 1998, Drs. Arash and Kamiar Alaei have been carrying out programs dealing with HIV/AIDS, particularly focused on harm reduction for injecting drug users in the war-torn province of Kermanshah, on the West Coast of Iran. The Alaei brothers have also sought the integration of prevention and care of HIV/AIDS, sexually-transmitted infections, and drug-related harm reduction, into Iran's national health care system.
International AIDS Conference Will Be Missing a Speaker
Marc Parry of the Albany Times Union reports:
The brothers have appeared in prominent international media outlets like the Washington Post and the BBC, which broadcast a documentary that featured their AIDS work.
The Asia Society named Kamiar Alaei a fellow in its Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative. The program brings together "the most dynamic emerging leaders under the age of 40 from across the Asia-Pacific region."
Asia Society Chairman Richard C. Holbrooke released a statement expressing concern about the detention of two brothers he called "leading figures in the HIV/AIDS community."
Arash Alaei was supposed to join 25,000 people at an international AIDS conference in Mexico in two weeks, according to Human Rights Watch. He intended to give a presentation on Iran's "innovative HIV program."
"The focus of the meeting will be on where we are making progress in the fight against AIDS and where we are failing," Joe Amon, HIV/AIDS program director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "Iran cannot be considered to be making progress if it is blatantly violating the human rights of two of its most valuable activists in this area."
Iran, Free the Docs
Please take action now: sign the petition to Iran calling for the release of the Drs. Alaei. Thank you for taking action.