Friday, December 19, 2008

Jailed Iranian AIDS Docs

Looking ahead to Monday.

The folks at Physicians for Human Rights expect the U.S. State Department to release a statement on the 6-month anniversary of the detention of two AIDS doctors in Iran.

Kamiar and Arash Alaei are internationally known for their work with AIDS and with heroin addicts. Iranian authorities accuse the brothers of trying to promote a "velvet revolution" under the guise of fighting AIDS. (Sounds a lot like the Haleh Esfandiari case to me.)

A quick Google News search shows the Alaeis' detention has so far garnered more mainstream press interest in Europe than the U.S., especially in French-language press.

I learned about the story in an e-mail from Physicians for Human Rights. Read more about their campaign to free the brothers here. (Note to PHR, you need to update the background page on the website. Kamiar Alaei has obviously not returned to his doctoral program at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health.)

The BBC profiled Kamiar and Arash Alaei for their AIDS work back in 2004 as did the Washington Post in 2006.

If you know about this story, please add to the comments below. I will give the comments that provide the most context a full-on post of their own.

Update: the State Department released its statement on the Alaei brothers on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008. It reads, in part:

The United States is also deeply concerned by the continued detention of internationally known Iranian HIV/AIDS physicians Dr. Arash Alaei and Dr. Kamiar Alaei. December 22 marked six months since the physicians were arbitrarily arrested by Iranian authorities and detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has the obligation to afford due process rights to anyone detained. The two have been active in various international exchange programs and academic research, helping to involve Iranians in the international academic and scientific community.

In November 2006, because of their work on HIV/AIDS, the Alaei brothers were participants in the first professional exchange program for Iranians in almost three decades, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program, which focused on public health, led to collaboration between American and Iranian medical professionals that could benefit the global fight against HIV-AIDS. Similar programs have brought citizens from over 165 countries to the United States.

The Iranian people have consistently expressed their desire to be connected to the global community. The actions of the Iranian Government against the Alaei brothers, Ms. Ebadi, and other human rights activists only serve to isolate further the Iranian people. With our friends and allies in the region, we stand by the brave people of Iran, who are trying peacefully to exercise their universal human rights, and call upon the Government of Iran to abide by its international obligations.

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