Global health and human rights advocates around the world are supporting Physicians for Human Rights on a Global Day of Action to call for the release of Dr. Arash Alaei from prison. Supporters can go to http://iranfreethedocs.org/ to sign a petition that will be delivered to Iranian officials urging them to free Dr. Arash Alaei.
Those who have signed the petition so far include Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, president-elect of the International AIDS Society; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and George M. Philip, president of the State University of New York at Albany.
Co-recipient of the 2011 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, Dr. Arash Alaei has been jailed by the Iranian government since 2008 for his groundbreaking work treating people with HIV/AIDS.
His brother, Dr. Kamiar Alaei, was also jailed and both brothers were wrongly convicted on charges of communicating with enemy governments by traveling to international public health conferences and sharing information about their work.
Dr. Kamiar Alaei was released after more than two years. Last month he spoke publicly about his experience for the first time at GHC’s annual conference when he accepted the Jonathan Mann Award for himself and on behalf of his brother.
Dr. Kamiar Alaei participated in a GHC event this morning on zeroing out new infections through prevention tools and technologies. He was joined by Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of International Partnership for Microbicides, Gloria Sangiwa, director of Technical Quality and Innovation, Management Sciences for Health and Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC.
Shortly after the event journalists gathered at a press conference where Dr. Alaei spoke about the work he and his brother have done and their pioneering approach to address the needs of young people (70% of Iran’s population is under 30) and provide integrated prevention, care and social support for key affected populations including injecting drug users and men who have sex with men. These efforts were conducted out in the open and with the knowledge of religious leaders and government officials in Iran.
The Alaei brothers are very much on the minds of people attending IAS 2011 in Rome. At this morning’s opening plenary Susan Kippax, emeritus professor at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, concluded her remarks by encouraging people to support the Global Day of Action for Dr. Arash Alaei. The brothers have also been mentioned by IAS President Elly Katabira in the meeting’s opening ceremony.