For Immediate Release
PHR congratulates prominent Iranian AIDS doctorsKamiar and Arash Alaei on their receipt of the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, and continues to call for the release of Arash from the Evin prison in Iran.At a ceremony on June 16, 2011, Kamiar accepted the award which aims tohighlight the vital link between health and human rights. The award isgiven out annually by the Global Health Council in memory of Dr. Jonathan Mann,the first director of UNAIDS and prominent public health visionary.
“PHR salutes the courage andconviction of the two brothers on receiving this prestigious award inrecognition of all of the important work that they have done to prevent and treatHIV/AIDS – both in Iran and globally,” said Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director ofPhysicians for Human Rights. “We hope that Iranian authorities will release Dr.Arash Alaei promptly so that he also can return to his vital medical work.”
The brothers were apparently targeted by the government for their worktraveling the world and liaising with health workers across the globe to findsolutions to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Theyfocused on overcoming stigma and discrimination againstinjection drug users and helped to develop and implement Iran’s enlightened policies onneedle exchange. The Iranian government used the doctors’ travel tointernational AIDS conferences and meetings with colleagues in the United Statesas a basis for their charges.
The brothers were in Tehran visiting their family prior to their planned participation in the2008 global HIV/AIDS conference in Mexico City, when they were arrested by Iranian authorities.The Alaeis were wrongfully convicted of “communications with an enemy government[USA]” and “seeking to overthrow the Iranian government” in 2008. Arash wassentenced to six years in prison and Kamiar was sentenced to three years. Kamiar was released a few months agobut Arash is still being detained. During the 18 months prior to Kamiar's release, the brothers hadbeen released for short furloughs.
Since their arrests in June 2008 aninternational campaign spearheaded by PHR has called for their release, engaginghundreds of leading AIDS experts, health organizations, and thousands ofsupporters from more than 80 countries.
“PHR, along with colleagues, classmates, andprominent leaders in the global AIDS and public health communities, haveadvocated for the release of Arash andKamiar for more than three years, and we only wish that Arash could join in thiscelebration with Kamiar,” said Sirkin.
Since their arrests, the Alaeis’colleagues and classmates campaigned vigorously on their behalf, gaining thesupport of the World Medical Association, the American Medical Association, theWorld Health assembly, the International AIDS Society, numerous academicinstitutions, leading AIDS researchers, and more. Together with other doctorsand public health workers in dozens of countries around the world theyorganized Global Days of Action and contacted Iranian embassies to press forthe release of the Alaei brothers. PHR organized the campaign to free theAlaeis, hosting the website IranFreeTheDocs.org.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.