Friday, September 12, 2008


Two doctors who are deeply involved in HIV prevention and treatment still being detained in Iran. Dr. Arash Alaei and his brother, Dr. Kamiar Alaei (both of whom are pictured here), are known internationally for their efforts to raise the profile of HIV/AIDS issues with the Iranian government, and for their roles in creating harm reduction programs for prisoners and young people.

The brothers were arrested more than two months ago. It is feared that they are being tortured in Tehran's notorious Ervin Prison.

Both doctors have travelled internationally for professional reasons and Dr Kamiar Alaei is a doctoral candidate at the State University of New York (SUNY) Albany School of Public Health. He holds a Masters degree in International Health from Harvard University and is due to resume his studies in Albany later in 2008. Earlier this year, the Asia Society recognized him as a 2008 Asia Fellow, "one of 23 new fellows identified as being among the most promising trendsetters and emerging leaders in the Asia-Pacific region." Dr Arash Alaei is the former Director of the International Education and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease

Drug Policy News reports Arash Alaei was slated to speak at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City earlier this summer. But on June 22, he was arrested by Iranian police. The following day they took his brother Kamiar, seizing documents from both brothers.

Since President Ahmadinejad took office in 2005, he has withdrawn support for Iran’s highly respected (and surprising to many) syringe exchange projects promoted by Arash and Kamair, initiatives hailed by the United Nations as "courageous" and "visionary." Iran has a serious drug use problem, particularly with heroin use, that has fueled the epidemic.

At that International AIDS Conference in Mexico City Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman,chair of the steering committee for amfAR’s TREAT Asia initiative, who established the Infectious Diseases Unit at the University of Malaya Medical Centre spoke about the brothers:.

"At this point I would like to take a minute of my presentation to appeal to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Arash and Kamiar Alaei from custody and the charges that have been brought upon them."

I have met the brothers on many occasions and had the opportunity to visit your beautiful country as a Faculty member of the HIV/TB training course for the region that they organized."

It was through the inspiration that was gained by the visit to your country that the Malaysian Prison Department has implemented opiate substitution therapy in the Malaysian prison system."

As a fellow Muslim I appeal to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the name of Allah the Most Merciful and Compassionate to release these brothers immediately."

It seems apparent that the brother's deep ties to the US medical community and to international nonprofit organizations have clearly touched a nerve with the Iranian regime and is the sole casue for their arrest.

The Alaei brothers, who helped found a series of cutting-edge AIDS clinics in Iran, participated in the first-ever US-funded people-to-people exchange with post-revolutionary Iran in 2006, visiting Tufts-New England Medical Center and other medical-related sites with a group of other Iranian doctors.

Deputy Tehran prosecutor Hassan Haddad told Iran's semiofficial ISNA news agency that two brothers used AIDS conferences to "recruit individuals" to overthrow the Iranian government, according to The Associated Press. They have been charged with violating national security.

Clinton Henry Trout, a former classmate of Kamiar's, told the Boston Globe, "In all my time with Kamiar and Arash, they never criticized the [Iranian] government," adding that the brothers believed they had the support of their country. However, Bahari said that Arash had been "harassed by different parts of the Iranian intelligence apparatus for the past two years."

Maziar Bahari, a London-based Iranian filmmaker who made a BBC documentary in 2004 featuring the brothers' work against HIV/AIDS said, "The Iranian government is paranoid about any contract with foreigners." Bahari added that the paranoia was sometimes understandable considering the U.S. government's stance on Iran but that "these brothers should not be in prison. They were not trying to overthrow the government."

The following is from the Iranian Political Prisoners Association.

Kamyar and Arash Alaii under torture in Iran

Both Kamyar and Arash Alaii were arrested on 23 June 2008 by security forces, and are still in detention after 2 months under going interrogation and torture.

The Alaii brothers have been vanguards in combating Aids in Iran.

According to reports by the Student Committee of the Human Rights Reporters, the two Doctors have been separated in solitary confinement and are undergoing immense pressure. Apparently security officials have managed to compel them to fake confessions suggesting their involvement in a plot to overthrow the government. They have been threatened not to ask for lawyers.

The Islamic Republic had previously charged the Alaii brothers of "acting to overthrow the Islamic Republic", through establishing an NGO, affiliated to the USA.

This has been the case during last year in which civil activists have been targeted with charges such as "acting to overthrow the government", in order to pave the way for security forces to carry out widespread arrests.

Dr.Kamyar Alaii has been a researcher in Harvard University and the founder of triangular clinics, specialist in World Health planning, and an activist in preventing the spread of Aids in Iran.

Before his arrest, in an interview with the Farsi speaking Radio Zamaneh, he had expressed concern over the spread of Aids indicating the rising statistics of those infected by Aids to have reached 100 000 so far. In the same interview he had re iterated that the spread could be contained.

Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is obligated to pertain to the obligations of this Covenant.

These include: refraining from arbitrary arrests and detention, announcing reasons of arrest with no delay, announcing charges under which the victims are detained, allowing the right to defense and to have a legal defense, and also allowing the victim to be present when charges are ruled.

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