Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Iranian AIDS Doctors Taken Away by Iranian Authorities

Kamiar (left) and Arash Alaei during an interview with RFE/RL in 2006.

"[T]he main attitude in the region is that HIV is a Western disease; so we don't get HIV. So when we broke the silence of denial in Iran and we [successfully got] the support of the religious leaders, we could motivate other countries in the region."---Kamiar Alaei

" I think all religious leaders don't have similar attitudes. We should find positive people -- religious leaders, leaders of different countries. And by connections and discussion with them, they can find a way to motive negative leaders, and negative religious leaders."---Arash Alaei

When Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia on September 24, 2007, he elicited jeers and laughter when he told his audience, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country.

Of course, like every country, Iran has homosexuals, and now two Iranian doctors who revolutionized how AIDS is treated in their country have been taken away somewhere by the Iranian authorities:

RFE/RL (7-16-08) reports:

Two prominent Iranian physicians have been detained by the Iranian government for unknown reasons.

Brothers Kamiar Alaei and Arash Alaei -- internationally recognized for their revolutionary work in how drug addicts and HIV/AIDS-infected people are treated in Iran -- were taken to an undisclosed location by the authorities in late June.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, the mother of the two men, who did not want her name used, said they are entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

"They were not [involved] in politics. They worked in the field of AIDS and drug addiction," she said. "They have appeared on Iranian state television many times to talk about these issues.... They have been involved only in scientific work and research."

...Read an interview with the Alaei brothers conducted in Washington in 2006 by RFE/RL correspondents Fatemeh Aman and Heather Maher here.

Both men have spoken about the situation with HIV/AIDS in Iran during professional visits to the United States.

Kamiar Alaei, co-founder of Global Health in the Middle East and Central Asia, is a doctoral candidate at the State University of New York at Albany School of Public Health. Global Health in the Middle East and Central Asia trains health experts in the treatment and care of HIV/AIDS victims.

The Asia Society recognized him as a 2008 Asia Fellow, "one of 23 new fellows identified as being among the most promising trendsetters and emerging leaders in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Kamiar reportedly returned to Iran in early June to spend the summer working there.

The two brothers also participated in the Aspen Health Forum in October 2007, a gathering of U.S. and international health leaders organized by the Aspen Institute.

The BBC (6-16-04) wrote a story about the Alaei brothers.


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