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A Message to Our Friends, from Arash and Kamiar

Dear Friends,

A great Persian Sufi poet wrote,

You are close to me when your heart is with me, even if you are far away from me.
You are far from me when your heart is not with me, even if you are beside me.

As a result of your support, we are now free and we are safe.

Four months after our arrest, we learned for the first time, via a discreet message from our family that so many of you were campaigning for our release.

Because we were under pressure during our two months of solitary confinement and several months of interrogation, we were led to believe that we were forgotten. When we got the message about your campaign through our family, it was like getting new blood that warmed our hearts and gave us energy to be strong, to tolerate the situation, and not to become broken.

Now that we are released, even though we have lost some of our friends in our country, we have learned that we have thousands of new friends, many of whom we have never met. We’ve had the chance to learn about the numerous letters, petitions, statements, presentations and conferences supporting our case from all over the world.

We appreciate so much your message that “treating AIDS is not a crime.” The campaign activity demonstrated to Iranian officials that thousands of individuals and organizations care about the situations of those people who work to improve the health status of their communities, especially when they face threats and persecution. In our case it was very important that the advocacy came not only from human rights organizations, but also from so many in the academic, medical, public health fields and individuals. We were so heartened to learn about the diversity of the engagement in our cause across geographic, religious, ethnic, cultural and political lines.

Thanks to your efforts, we are rejoicing at being reunited and we want to extend your advocacy by being the voice of the voiceless for others who may face a similar situation to ours. This is at least one way we can pass on the kindness you have shown to us.

We are both currently at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany where we hope to start an interdisciplinary center for health and human rights. We hope to receive your input and advice to make this a reality. We also with our friends plan to initiate a “Prison Alumni – Club Evin” to support one another and advocate for others who remain there.

We learned from our prison experience that if you believe in what you are doing, you must continue your work, whether or not the work is appreciated by your government….and you must do this until the last moment of your life.

We are unable to communicate our full appreciation to all of you since words cannot express our real feelings. But from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for campaigning for our freedom.

With much gratitude,

Arash Alaei
Alaeiarash [at] gmail.com

Kamiar Alaei
Kamiar.alaei [at] yahoo.com

Free – and Together – at Last!

Following years of campaigning for their release, PHR welcomes Doctors Arash and Kamiar Alaei to the US! The brothers, renowned Iranian physicians, were detained in June 2008 by Iranian authorities, and were recently released from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Photos of the two of them together at a recent event honoring them can be seen on PHR’s Facebook page.

The doctors, together at last
(Nov 7, 2011). Photo: Amy Hart.

“UAlbany AIDS doctor’s brother home in U.S.”

The Albany, NY, Times-Union today posted an article on timesunion.com applauding Dr. Arash Alaei’s release from prison and reunion with his brother, Dr. Kamiar Alaei, in Albany, where Dr. Kamiar is completing his doctoral dissertation in public health at the State University of New York at Albany.

Doctors Alaei Featured on CNN’s “Sanjay Gupta, MD”

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who regularly runs features on health professionals and medical and health news of interest, welcomed Dr. Arash and Dr. Kamiar Alaei to his program on Saturday, October 22, 2011 to discuss their work in HIV/AIDS in Iran, and why their work resulted in their imprisonment. See the clip on the Videos page.

World-Renowned HIV/AIDS Doctors Arrive in US

Doctors Kamiar and Arash Alaei arrival concludes 3-year campaign spearheaded by PHR

PHR today announced the arrival of prominent Iranian AIDS doctors Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei in the US following 3 years in prison in Tehran. During their imprisonment, PHR spearheaded a 3-year international campaign which called for their release and engaged hundreds of leading AIDS experts, virologists, and health organizations. In late 2010, Dr. Kamiar Alaei was released; Dr. Arash Alaei was released last month. Media Contact
Megan Prock
PHR Senior Press Officer
mprock [at] phrusa [dot] org
Tel: 617-301-4237
Cell: 617-510-3417

Drs. Arash and Kamiar Alaei were arrested in June 2008 and wrongfully convicted in January 2009 on charges of communicating with an enemy government. The Iranian government used the doctors’ travel to international AIDS conferences and meetings with colleagues in the United States as a basis for the charges.

“PHR, along with other members of the health and human rights community, has been working tirelessly to secure the release of Arash and Kamiar for more than three years,” said Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director of PHR. “Doctors and other health professionals all over the world often face persecution for simply doing their job, and PHR has a long history of advocating on behalf of these doctors for justice and accountability.”

PHR, together with other doctors and public health workers in dozens of countries around the world, organized Global Days of Action and contacted Iranian embassies to press for the release of the Alaei brothers. PHR organized the campaign to free the Alaeis and hosted iranfreethedocs.org, where supporters from around the world posted videos and messages of support.

“Knowing that PHR and its members were working on our behalf sustained us when all seemed lost,” said Dr. Kamiar Alaei. “PHR is the one organization that uses the expertise and voice of doctors such as Arash and me to help protect human rights around the world.”

In June, Dr. Kamiar Alaei accepted the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights on behalf of both brothers. In July, at the annual International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Rome, Dr. Kamiar Alaei spoke for the first time since his release about his work at a press conference hosted by PHR and International AIDS Society.


About Physicians for Human Rights

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent, non-profit organization that uses medical and scientific expertise to investigate human rights violations and advocate for justice, accountability, and the health and dignity of all people. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe:

  • 1988 – First to document Iraq’s use of chemical weapons against Kurds
  • 1996 – Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans
  • 1996 – Produced critical forensic evidence of genocide in Rwanda
  • 1997 – Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 – Warned of health and human rights catastrophe prior to the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 – Documented and analyzed the genocide in Darfur
  • 2005 – Detailed the story of tortured detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay
  • 2010 – Presented the first evidence showing that CIA medical personnel engaged in human
    experimentation on prisoners in violation of the Nuremberg Code and other provisions

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