This week marks the second anniversary of
Arash and Kamiar Alaei's detention in Iran. Brothers and Iranian educated
doctors, the Alaei's have worked tirelessly for the rehabilitation of substance
abusers in Iran as well as for the health and welfare of Iran's ostracized
HIV/AIDS community. They were part of the team of Iranian physicians and health
experts who developed Iran's triangular clinic system, a model that has recieved
much international acclaim. According to the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS
Epidemic (published by
UNAIDS on 29 July 2008) "support for
needle exchange projects in countries such as the Islamic Republic of Iran ...
serve as clear examples of courageous, visionary leadership in the response to
HIV." Maziar Bahari's documentary,
Mohammad and the Matchmaker, is a
window into some of Arash and Kamiar's extraordinary accomplishments during the
past 10 years.
Dr. Kamiar Alaei
On June 26th, 2008 Arash was detained by
Iranian authorities with Kamiar suffering the same fate less than a day later.
Kamiar was named Asia Society Fellow earlier that year, "one of 23 new Fellows
identified as being among the most promising trendsetters and emerging leaders
in the Asia-Pacific region." He had just completed his Masters in International
Health from Harvard and was studying his doctoral studies at SUNY at Albany's
School of Public Health. Arash, former Director of the International Education
and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of
Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (NRITLD), and a researcher at the Shahid Beheshti
University of Medical Sciences was also running the Middle East's first and only
all women's drug rehabilitation clinic.
Their whereabouts remained unknown for two months,
before it became apparent that they were being held in solitary confinement at
Tehran's notorious Evin prison. The first national news on their charges came
from Iranian E'temad newspaper, reporting that the brothers were being "held on
suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government." On December 31st, 2008
Kamiar and Arash were finally charged with conspiracy to over throw the Iranian
government by way of a "velvet revolution" under article 508 of the Islamic
Republic of Iran's Penal Code, in a clandestine secret trial.
After their case the brothers were finally moved
to the general prison population, showing amazing energy and resilience. They
continued right where they left off starting Anti-Tobacco, Drug Rehab Programs,
HIV/AIDS control and health education for their fellow inmates, and even using
their five minute phone call per day to contact regarding public health programs
for the prisoners. Kamiar and Arash, sentenced to 3 and 6 years in prison
respectively, continue to reside in captivity. Word on the appeal to their court
decision has been more than a year pending.