Dr. Kamiar Alaei and his brother, Dr. Arash Alaei, are internationally respected HIV/AIDS researchers and educators.
The vigil, held in front of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in New York, was organized by Physicians For Human Rights (PHR) and a coalition of health and human rights groups. It was timed to coincide with the appearance of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad at the UN General Assembly.
In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, Susannah Sirkin, deputy director of PHR, said those participating in the vigil are demanding that Iran respect the fundamental human rights of the Alaei brothers and release them.
"What is understood so far about the possible reason for their arrest seems to be merely because they have had a wide set of international contacts in their HIV/AIDS work, their medical work, their public health work," Sirkin said, "and that, according to one report from the prosecutor in Tehran, they are being accused of fomenting a 'velvet revolution' [in Iran]. As far as we can understand, that charge is just based on their having an interest in medical and public health exchanges on the challenge of HIV/AIDS."
Sirkin said the PHR delivered to the Iranian Mission a petition for the brothers' release that was signed by more than 3,000 health professionals, including top international HIV/AIDS doctors, from 85 countries.
(by Hannah Kaviani of RFE/RL's Radio Farda)