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For Immediate Release

Human Rights Groups at Mexico City AIDS Conference Petition Iran for Release of HIV/AIDS Doctors

Cambridge, Mass - 08/04/2008

PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY: 4:00 p.m. CDT in Press Conference Room 2 (Maya), Media Center Centro Banamex, Mexico City

(Mexico City) A coalition of AIDS and human rights organizations that includes Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) has launched a campaign to free two Iranian physicians, Drs. Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei. The doctors, who are brothers, are active in HIV/AIDS education, prevention and treatment in Iran.

According to international news reports, Iranian security forces detained the Drs. Alaei in late June, 2008 and are holding them incommunicado. The doctors' whereabouts remain unknown. On Sunday, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse cited Iranian news reports stating that the brothers have been charged with participating in "a velvet revolution," partly due to their activities at international AIDS conferences, such as the one currently taking place in Mexico City. Dr. Arash Alaei had been slated to speak here Thursday.

"If international media reports are accurate, then the allegations made against the Drs. Alaei are illegitimate and politically motivated," stated PHR's CEO Frank Donaghue.

"The Iranian government must provide the Alaei brothers with immediate access to legal counsel and to their families," said Joe Amon, Director of the Health and Human Rights division at HRW.

PHR has launched a web site, IranFreeTheDocs.org, which is collecting signatures on a petition to the government of Iran, urging it to respect and uphold the doctors' basic human rights. And in conjunction with PHR and the HIV Medical Association, sixteen of the top infectious disease doctors in the world have written a letter to the Minister of Health and Medical Education in Iran on behalf of the doctors. This and other supporting documents are available at IranFreeTheDocs.org.

"These charges stifle the country's efforts to address AIDS effectively and to serve as a model for the region," added Donaghue. "We urge the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release them immediately so that they can continue their important medical and public health work for the betterment of the people of Iran and the world."

Human Rights Watch (www.hrw.org) is a nongovernmental organization based in New York that monitors and reports on international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law issues in more than 70 countries around the world.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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