Clint Trout was next door neighbors with Kamiar Alaei when they were both students at the Harvard School of public health. Clint recalls Kamiar's passion for addressing the needs of people living with AIDS in Iran and elsewhere, including PLWA in US prisons.
Doctor Arash Alaei and Doctor Kamiar Alaei are two Iranian physicians who were detained in June 2008 by Iranian authorities. The physicians, who are brothers, were kept in Tehrans 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, 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 Irans Islamic Penal Code. Kamiar was sentenced to three years and Arash was sentenced to six.
Doctor Arash Alaei and Doctor Kamiar Alaei have played a role in putting the issues of drug use and HIV/AIDS on Irans national health care agenda. They have worked closely with government and religious leaders to ensure support for education campaigns on HIV transmission, including those targeting youth, and for HIV and harm reduction programs in prisons.
Since completing their medical training, the brothers have worked in AIDS research in Iran, and along with other clinicians and advocates, helped make the country a leader in prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS. They played a part in the creation of Irans HIV/AIDS prison program, one of the best in the region if not the world. The program passes out condoms and syringes in the prisons, one of only a handful of countries globally doing so. The doctors have also shared their knowledge with neighboring countries by holding training workshops for Afghan and Tajik health professionals.
Dr. Arash was scheduled to speak at the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. A coalition of groups including PHR will be sponsoring an empty chair with his name, to bring attention to the detention of the brothers. Dr. Kamiar, a doctoral candidate at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health, is expected to return to his program in September.
Family, friends, and colleagues from around the world are deeply concerned for the brothers well-being. We urge you to take action today to ensure their human rights are protected and they are reconnected with their family.