groups at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City are calling
on Iran to release two world-renowned physicians who have been detained
in their homeland. VOA's Greg Flakus has more from Mexico City.
Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights are calling for the
immediate release of two Iranian doctors, Arash Alaei and his brother
Kamyar Alaei, both of whom were arrested in Iran in late June. The
Alaei brothers had been active in HIV/AIDS education as well as
prevention and treatment programs.
prominence led them to participate in many international health forums
and AIDS conferences. Dr. Arash Alaei was scheduled to participate at
this conference here in Mexico City this week, but there has been no
word from Iran about his or his brother's whereabouts. News reports
from Teheran indicate the two brothers were arrested for participation
in subversive activities.
Donaghue, chief executive officer of Physicians for Human Rights tells
VOA the arrest of the two physician brothers is especially strange
since they once operated with the full approval of the Iranian
were often originally sponsored by the Iranian government with their
work, but the Iranian government is now saying they used their presence
at conferences like this global AIDS conference to undermine the
Iranian government," Donaghue said. "In fact, Doctor Alaei was to have
been here on Thursday as one of the panel speakers and there will be an
empty chair in his honor on the dais on Thursday."
Donaghue says he has tried to communicate, both directly and indirectly, with authorities in Teheran to no avail.
have personally written to the president of Iran as well as other
government officials demanding that these doctors be released or
charged with credible charges, not those that may be made up for
political reasons," Donaghue said.
for Human Rights has initiated an international campaign along with
other human rights groups to put pressure on the Iranian government to
release the two doctors. The organization has launched a web site,
IranFreeTheDocs.org, to collect signatures from people around the world
who want to support the cause.
for Human Rights Watch say the arrest of the Alaei brothers will have a
chilling effect on programs to fight AIDS and HIV infection in Iran.
According to the organization, the two physicians worked for more than
20 years in their native land to address problems related to drug abuse
and HIV transmission.
brothers Alaei helped create an HIV program that was considered
innovative in international circles and Human Rights Watch says they
have never been known to have any involvement in political activities.