Dr. Arash is Freed!!
We are so happy to report that Dr. Arash Alaei has been released from the Iranian prison, Evin Prison in Tehran. Arash’s brother, Dr. Kamiar Alaei says: “I want to thank everybody around the world who campaigned for the release of my brother and me. They did a wonderful job during the past three years, and without the support of Physicians for Human Rights and the Coalition to Free the Alaeis, it is highly likely we would not be celebrating Arash’s release today.”
UPDATES: On June 16, 2011, the Doctors Alaei were honored by the Global Health Council with the 2011 Jonathan Mann award for Health and Human Rights, which Kamiar accepted on behalf of them both. The New York Times’ Tina Rosenberg also wrote about the award on her blog, the Opinionator.
The British medical journal, The Lancet, has also published a profile of the Doctors Alaei, with an interview with Dr. Kamiar.
Doctor Arash Alaei and Doctor Kamiar Alaei, two well-known Iranian physicians and HIV/AIDS leaders, were detained in June 2008 by Iranian authorities without cause and without charges or trial. The physicians, who are brothers, were held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for over six months. On December 31, 2008, a one-day, closed-door trial was held, in which the brothers were tried as conspirators working with an “enemy government” to overthrow the government of Iran. They were also tried at that time on unspecified other charges which neither they nor their lawyer were allowed to know, see the evidence of, or address.
On January 19, 2009, the Doctors Alaei were convicted and sentenced under charges of being in “communications with an enemy government” and “seeking to overthrow the Iranian government under article 508 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code”. Kamiar was sentenced to three years and Arash was sentenced to six.
The Alaeis’ crime: traveling the globe and liaising with other health workers to find solutions to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The government used the doctors’ travel to international AIDS conferences as a basis for this charge — a dangerous conflation of public health diplomacy with treason that will harm Iran’s ability to be a worldwide medical leader and protect its people from disease and death.
In November 2010, Doctor Kamiar was quietly released after over two years of detention. His brother Arash remains in Evin Prison, and PHR and colleagues and friends of the Alaeis continue to work tirelessly for his release.