Doctor Arash Alaei and Doctor Kamiar Alaei, two well-known Iranian physicians and HIV/AIDS leaders, were detained in June 2008 by Iranian authorities. The physicians, who are brothers, were held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for over six months without charges or trial. 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 world and liaising with health workers across the globe 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.
Next week is the International AIDS Conference in Vienna. We ask that if you are presenting, please include this slide either to the beginning or end of your presentation:
If you are presenting, but not using a data projector, please take a few seconds to express solidarity with the campaign to release the Iranian doctors during your presentation.
Thanks to Stephanie Bell, Asia Russell and Jo Read for preparing this.