Effect Measure

Many of you were readers here when science bloggers and scienceblogs in particular played a pivotal role in the case of the Tripoli 6, medics under sentence of death in Libya over trumped up charges of infecting children with HIV. Another urgent matter now confronts the worldwide scientific community involving two Iranian doctors. Declan Butler, Nature senior correspondent, has described the situation in a post at one of the Nature blogs:

Iran puts leading HIV scientists on trial

Posted on behalf of Declan Butler

Iran has summarily tried two of the nation’s HIV researchers with communicating with an “enemy government,” in a half-day trial that started and ended on 31 December in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. There will be no further court hearings, and a verdict is expected within days.

The brothers, Arash and Kamiar Alaei, who have achieved international acclaim for their progressive HIV-prevention programme, have been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since their arrest last June (see Nature story, subscription required). Kamiar, the younger of the brothers, holds a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health and was to have resumed doctoral studies at the University of Albany’s School of Public Health in New York. Arash, former head of international education and research cooperation at the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, runs a clinic in Tehran. The brothers are not thought to have been politically active.

Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the Washington-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), points out that the six-month detention itself breached human rights, as it was “largely incommunicado.” Moreover, whereas Iranian law forbids anyone to be held in detention for longer than four months without charges being brought, it only filed the charge of communicating with an “enemy government” in early December.

At the trial, the prosecution also indicted the men on new secret charges. The trial denied the men the right to defend themselves against the new accusations and the right to due process, says Hutson. “The trial was unfair even by the draconian standards of Iran’s penal code,” he says.

In August, the prosecutor publicly accused the men of fomenting a velvet revolution, arguing that they had collaborated with other scientists around the world, including some in the United States, attended international AIDS conferences, and met frequently with AIDS NGOs. “Those are not crimes, that’s good medicine,” says Hutson, adding that it has casts a chilling effect on academic collaboration between Iran and the rest of the world. IIn December, the US National Academies suspended visits to Iran after the temporary detention of one of its officials in Tehran (Nature).

Several human-rights organizations, including PHR and Amnesty International, have called on Iran to allow the men access to lawyers and the right to contest their detention before a judge. The call has been taken up by several scientific bodies, including the International AIDS Society, the Foundation for AIDS Research and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and thousands of scientists and physicians have signed an online petition.

You can take effective action by calling the Iranian Mission at the United Nations. Here’s the telephone number: 1-212-687-2020. PHR says they are being inundated with calls. Make yours one of them. If you call, here is what to do when you get through and what else you can do:

Urge Iran to release the Alaeis immediately. See the petition at http://actnow-phr.org/campaign/drop_the_charges for talking points. Feel free to add any details about how you know them, and to emphasize their great work on HIV/AIDS.

– Sign the new petition on their behalf, urging Iran to stop this sham court proceeding and release the Alaeis. As soon as you sign on, an email with your message will be sent directly to the Iranian Mission to the UN, and will be added to a list of concerned citizens. We want to inundate the mission with calls for their release. Help us reach 500 signatures by the end of today!

Talking points for Call:

Introduce yourself and where you are calling from ex “My name is Paul and I am a doctor/medical student/health professional in Boston/Paris/Kampala etc.

Tell them why you are calling ex. “Treating AIDS is not a crime. Drs Alaei should be immediately released to continue their lifesaving work on HIV/AIDS for the people of Iran

Add any details about how you know Kamiar or Arash ex “I was a student with Kamiar at Harvard School of Public Health”

After you make the call, let us know by emailing skalloch [at] phrusa [dot] org

More than 3100 doctors, nurses and public health workers from more than 85 countries have signed an online petition. You can, too. It only takes a minute or so. The entire worldwide scientific community is now weighing in. You can, too.

In the case of the Tripoli 6 we helped to save the lives of innocent medical people. We can now help these two doctor scientists whose only crime seems to be practicing responsible science and medicine.

Comments

  1. #1 James F
    January 7, 2009

    Signed, and will pass along. Here’s hoping it will make a difference.

  2. #2 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 8, 2009

    Revere-A voice from the boonies here.

    Sign the online petition for sure but better to flood the UN Representatives and Foreign affairs email box. They got the message last time in Libya, especially when two brigades of US soldiers sent them nastygrams using every deleted expletive you can think of.

    Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations.

    Email:

    Iran@un.int

    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    matbuat@mfa.gov.ir

    Nice to have people you know in low places with the addresses huh?

    Be verbose, be nasty and let them know that doctors being doctors have no politics. AIDS as you know doesnt exist in Iran because to acknowledge that would mean that their religion police are not doing their jobs and that their fundamentalists are not so fundamentalist. These people are not the carrot and honey types. They are the club over the head types and the ONLY thing they understand is pure unmitigated force. Sometimes that force comes from within, many times without.

    Let them know that you are starting a campaign with your own various governments for them to isolate Iran and to cause as much economic hardship as possible. Start talking to them about asking for your government to quit selling/giving them medical and food aid. Now thats the implied threat. One injunction that stops the supply of food/medicines to Iran that lasts for a month might just do the trick. Governments that would conveniently comply with the law, well it might just drag out to 6 months.

    Hurtful to the people? So is being hanged for being a doctor.

    But as to the economics of the situation, they are sensitive about this as their economy has fallen like a rock with the prices of oil and they may not be able to feed their people in the next six months. That number by the way for economics is somewhere in the 50 plus a barrel range for them to break even, adjusted for inflation.

    Anything you do here and in your respective countries might bring the government down in the process. Also, here is the threatening part, tell them that you are donating money to “peaceful” anti-government forces. There is of course no such thing.

    Remember…. You cannot use extortion against them by saying you are going to fund groups that are working for their overthrow. Cant plot to violently overthrow any government from US soil, check your local regulations as they vary from country to country.

    So be careful in your wording. You get 600,000 pissed off people on this planet donating 1000 bucks to anti-government forces and the Iranian regime would be in tatters pretty quick.

    Now thats the law….How you work around it is up to you.

    Greetings from the front Revere, was able to get a laptop up for more than a 30 second burst.

    Folks, Revere and I disagree about most things. Some of them we do. This is one of them. When you start a Stalin operation against doctors, then who would they stop at next? No, this is intolerable and the regime of Iran will of course fail own its own eventually, but these guys cant wait. They are executing people in Iran on regular basis for being nothing more than dissidents.

    The last guys that tried it were the Libyans and the heat came down. NATO almost got involved and they were preparing to intercede for the EU citizens being held illegally. These guys though are Iranians and basically all they have done is speak out, treat the patients and while I am not a cause person this is one of those that I punch my time clock on.

    Start with the letter writing and tool up your own emails to these guys above. Personal ones disturb them… So write them and be very disturbing but dont threaten them directly

    Bests to all. Back in a few weeks.

  3. #3 revere
    January 8, 2009

    Randy: Glad to see you are safe and sound. Stay that way. Thanks for the help on this.

  4. #4 BGT
    January 8, 2009

    It’s comments like these that Randy occassionally makes that remind me of Heddle.

  5. #5 SC
    January 8, 2009

    Thanks for posting about this. I had just linked to the petition over at Pharyngula the other day.

    These people are not the carrot and honey types. They are the club over the head types and the ONLY thing they understand is pure unmitigated force. Sometimes that force comes from within, many times without.

    How very…imperialist.

    Start talking to them about asking for your government to quit selling/giving them medical and food aid. Now thats the implied threat. One injunction that stops the supply of food/medicines to Iran that lasts for a month might just do the trick. Governments that would conveniently comply with the law, well it might just drag out to 6 months.

    Hurtful to the people? So is being hanged for being a doctor.

    And of course it’s the people – especially those hungry and sick ones, who are persecuting the doctors. Better yet, why not just invade them, like in Iraq? Ignore the Iranian population if it’s overwhelmingly opposed to such actions – they just don’t understand what’s best for them.

    Also, here is the threatening part, tell them that you are donating money to “peaceful” anti-government forces. There is of course no such thing.

    What are you, insane? I get emails every day from people, groups, and organizations in Iran (of women, of students,…) that are struggling against the government peacefully. They have web sites where they report on their activities and protests and the repression they face. You can find them on the world-wide internet web thing. They would be happy for your support.

  6. #6 M.Randolph Kruger
    January 9, 2009

    SC-You comments are understood. You are of course entitled to your opinion. I cant get into a big discussion as the links just dont hold up long enough.

    Personally I am of the belief that the people should just take matters into their own hands there. I was in the USAF in 79 when the hostages were taken. We had a couple of 23 year old officers in training in Homestead AFB. They were recalled after the Shah was deposed. They were arrested, tried and then shot two days after their arrival back into Iran. Removal of one dictator for a whole group of new ones backed by petrodollars. They actually anticipate a coup as they all have robbed their people and most of the Imams have billions socked away in Qatar and Doha.

    But until then we have to deal with a bunch of religious loonies that are ten times worse than any fundamentalists we have in the US. Yeah, that peaceful thing is working out for them. They get hung, shot, tortured. No telling what these two good guys have gone through… I am sure its that Guantanamo harsh language torture. Anyways, everyone should write first and if that doesnt work there are lots of sites that do things on a little more active scale. Hunger in the near term may just tip the balance of power and allow for the removals. Lets just hope its before these guys get dead. If we invaded them, then okay lets do it but go in and break things and leave. None of this nation building crap.

    Revere, a little over 1000 nastygrams went out today to all three entities. The email petition, the foreign ministry and the UN Rep. There were also requests sent to the families back in the states to light those guys up too.

    Bests.

  7. #7 SC
    January 9, 2009

    Personally I am of the belief that the people should just take matters into their own hands there. I was in the USAF in 79 when the hostages were taken. We had a couple of 23 year old officers in training in Homestead AFB…

    Personally, I am of the belief that they were taking matters into their own hands when they elected Mossadeq. Unfortunately, the British and the CIA didn’t think the direction of their country should be in their own hands, and instead installed and supported a brutal dictator there for the next quarter of a century (later repeated in important aspects in Iraq). Love the way another country’s history is told from the perspective of the US military.

    But until then we have to deal

    “We” again. Yeah, I can tell the Iranian citizenry is first and foremost in your mind.

    with a bunch of religious loonies that are ten times worse than any fundamentalists we have in the US. Yeah, that peaceful thing is working out for them. They get hung, shot, tortured. No telling what these two good guys have gone through…

    They are repressed, and they are still fighting. You and others in the US don’t even acknowledge their existence, let alone publicize their actions or provide them with any sort of support. Your “write threatening letters, and if that gets no positive result as I narrowly define it, try to starve them out or invade” plan simply dismisses Iranians as political actors.

    Hunger in the near term may just tip the balance of power and allow for the removals.

    It’s not just about “the removals” for the people there. It’s about democracy, freedom, justice, and human rights. These can be promoted by working with and supporting groups there who are working on the ground. They cannot be imposed by force, even if that were the genuine concern of the US government, which it most certainly is not.

    And who are you to decide how much suffering other people should endure to attain your goals? If a country’s population is opposed (go figure) to being invaded, occupied, or blockaded, I respect that.

    If we invaded them, then okay lets do it but go in and break things and leave. None of this nation building crap.

    Glad to hear you’re so sanguine about the whole thing. The actions of US governments in the region have been about military power, control over oil, and corporate profits – never about promoting democracy, human rights, or “nation-building.”

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