US concerned about detained Iranian AIDS experts

December 24th, 2008 - 8:58 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 24 (DPA) The US has expressed “deep concern” over the continued detention of two Iranian AIDS experts, who have now been in prison for six months.The men, brothers Arash and Kamiar Alaei, were arbitrarily arrested by Iranian security forces in late June and detained in Tehran’s Evin prison.

“As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has the obligation to afford due process rights to anyone detained,” US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday.

“The two have been active in various international exchange programmes and academic research, helping to involve Iranians in the international academic and scientific community,” he said.

The Alaei brothers are pioneering AIDS researchers in Iran, and made the country an unlikely leader in the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS.

They played a large role in the creation of Iran’s HIV/AIDS prison programme, said to be one of the best in the region, if not the world. Condoms and syringes are handed out in prisons, making Iran one of only a handful of countries doing so.

Kamiar, a doctoral candidate at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health, was to return to his programme in September. Arash is a former director of the International Education and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

Since 1986, the Alaei brothers have worked to integrate prevention and care of HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and drug-related harm reduction into Iran’s national health care system.

“The Iranian people have consistently expressed their desire to be connected to the global community,” McCormack said, adding that “the actions of the Iranian government against the Alaei brothers … only serve to isolate further the Iranian people.

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