Their attorney, Massoud Shaffiie filed a final appeal on May 7 to Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi under Article 118 of the Iranian Constitution.
"It appears that the jailing of people on trumped-up charges has more to do with appeasing the conservatives in advance of Iran's national elections in June," said Jonathan Hutson, PHR's Chief Communications Officer. "The case of these physicians is part of a crackdown on international scientific and academic exchange, which undermines efforts of all who seek to protect the health of the Iranian people."
"Imprisoning AIDS doctors who are getting vital health services to people with and at risk of HIV--including people who inject illegal drugs--is not only a violation of basic human rights, it's also a prescription for further spread of the epidemic," said Richard Elliott, Executive Director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.
Dr. Kamiar Alaei is a doctoral candidate at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health in Albany, NY and was expected to resume his studies there in the fall of 2008. In 2007, he received a Master's of Science from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Arash Alaei is the former director of the International Education and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.
Since 1998, the doctors have worked on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs in Iran, particularly focused on harm reduction for injecting drug users. Their efforts helped earn Iran recognition as a model of best practice by the World Health Organization.
Tuesday's vigils were held at Ralph J. Bunche Park across from the UN in New York City, and the Iranian Interests Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC. Protestors represented 20 countries including Argentina, Bulgaria, Germany, Guyana, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Russia,
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