Ahwazi Arabs are affected by above-average HIV infection rates due to a high level of intravenous drugs use. Drug addiction is a problem among Ahwazi Arab youths due to high levels of deprivation, which has meant many have sought relief in illicit substance abuse. An international heroin smuggling route passes through their traditional homeland, with drugs trafficked from Afghanistan to the West. As a consequence, shared needles have helped spread HIV/AIDS within this ethnic group
In June, the doctors, who are brothers, were detained without charge by Iranian security forces and are being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison. To date, no formal charges have been filed.
Doctor Arash Alaei and Doctor Kamiar Alaei have played a role in putting the issues of drug use and HIV/AIDS on Iran's national health care agenda. They have worked closely with government and religious leaders to ensure support for education campaigns on HIV transmission, including those targeting youth, and for HIV and harm reduction programmes in prisons.
Since completing their medical training, the brothers have worked in AIDS research in Iran, and along with other clinicians and advocates, helped make the country a leader in prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS. They played a part in the creation of Iran's HIV/AIDS prison programme, one of the best in the region if not the world. The programme passes out condoms and syringes in the prisons, one of only a handful of countries globally doing so. The doctors have also shared their knowledge with neighboring countries by holding training workshops for Afghan and Tajik health professionals.
BAFS supports the efforts of these doctors in combatting the spread of HIV/AIDS and regards their programmes as essential to the welfare of Ahwazi Arabs and all Iranians.
Supporters are being asked to take a picture of video of themselves holding a sign saying "Treating AIDS is not a crime". The photos and videos should be uploaded to the internet or can be sent to contact(at)ahwaz.org.uk and published alongside other messages of support.
Supporters of the Alaei brothers should also submit protests to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations:
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor, New York, NY 10017
Telephone: (212) 687-2020 Telefax: (212) 867-7086
For more information:
Iran, Free Doctors Arash and Kamiar Alaei
Upload your photos to: http://drop.io/iranfreethedocs