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For Immediate Release

Sad Anniversary in Alaeis' Detention

Cambridge, Mass - 06/25/2009

One year ago this week, Iranian authorities arrested Drs. Kamiar and Arash Alaei, internationally renowned Iranian HIV/AIDS physicians, for practicing medicine. On this somber anniversary for friends, family and colleagues of the Alaeis, Iran is witnessing increasing violence and a litany of alleged human rights abuses. As post-election violence in Iran continues, PHR urges the Iranian government to protect the human rights of everyone within its borders and to respect both international law and human rights provisions in Iran's own constitution.

In the aftermath of Iran's presidential elections, held June 12, 2009, hundreds of people have been detained, including Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, a friend of the Alaeis, who directed a moving documentary in 2004 on their AIDS work, called Mohammad and the Matchmaker. Reports from Iran state that many demonstrators have been beaten, and some killed, while hundreds of others have been detained. The Iranian government has severely limited freedom of the press during this time, expelling foreign journalists and cutting off cell phone and internet access at various periods throughout the past two weeks. PHR is deeply concerned for the safety of everyone detained in Iran, including the Drs. Alaei.

On the one-year anniversary of their arrest, PHR renews our call to the Iranian government to release Arash and Kamiar Alaei so that they can continue their life-saving medical work in Iran and worldwide.


After a perfunctory trial in December 2008, Kamiar and Arash were convicted of "communicating with an enemy government" and sentenced to three and six years, respectively, in Evin Prison in Tehran. The Alaeis' crime: traveling the world and liaising with health workers across the globe to find solutions to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

"Iran can not equate public health diplomacy and the quest for shared solutions to the world's shared disease burden to treason. It is a dangerous and maddening fallacy and a danger to the people of Iran to keep science stifled and scientists in jail." said Sarah Kalloch, Director of Outreach at PHR.

Protect the Rights of All

PHR also urges Iranian authorities to protect the human rights of all people in Iran during this post-election crisis. The Iranian authorities must respect the right to free assembly that is articulated in both International Human Rights Law and in the Iranian Constitution. PHR is also concerned about reports of alleged violations of Medical Neutrality by the Iranian government. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has reported that people seeking medical attention for injuries suffered during demonstrations are being arrested in hospitals, and that doctors are being forced to report to state security any injuries that appear to be related to protests. This puts doctors in Iran in a desperate position: obey the state or care for their patients.

"The Iranian Government must allow health professionals to treat patients regardless of their political leanings. Doctors have an ethical duty to prevent and limit suffering of patients in their care and a duty to practice medicine in a neutral way without fear or favor," continued Ms. Kalloch.

The need for human rights protection for the Alaeis, for our colleague Mazier Bahari, and for all Iranians, has never been greater. The Iranian Government must respect the universal freedoms and rights of its people as recognized by the international community and the laws of Iran.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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