Press Release: Protest against Oberlin College’s Mahallati for mass executions

We, a group of families of executed political prisoners in Iran, Oberlin College students and alumni, and human rights activists, are holding a protest against the reported “crimes against humanity” conducted by Oberlin College Professor, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati. The protest will be held on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, from 12 to 2 pm in front of the Cox Administration Building at Oberlin College, Ohio.   

According to Amnesty International’s 2018 report, Blood-soaked secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 prison massacres are ongoing crimes against humanity, Mahallati was among the senior officials who “were actively involved in denying the mass killings in media interviews and exchanges with the UN to shield those responsible from accountability.”   

We believe the continuation of employment of Mr. Mahallati is in contrast with Oberlin’s mission statement, emphasizing “an enduring commitment to a sustainable and just society.”   

Mahallati, the Islamic Regime of Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations covered up the 1988 Massacre of more than 5000 thousand innocent political prisoners. Mahallati also stoked incitement  against the persecuted Baha’i people and delivered anti-Semitic speeches against Israel and Jewish people at the UN.   

Lawdan Bazargan, sister of one of the Leftists victims of this atrocity, said “While Mahallati was enjoying high ranking position in an oppressive Islamic regime, my brother was behind bars fighting for human rights and human dignity. Why does a liberal art school such as Oberlin College that must be the beacon of hope, protect the perpetrators instead of the victims?”  

Kaveh Shahrooz, who lost his uncle in this Massacre said, “Oberlin College has been completely non-responsive to the demands of hundreds of survivors and families of the 1988 massacre. They refuse to explain why they have granted tenure to a man who misled the world on crimes against humanity. This protest is to bring attention to Mahallati’s role in the cover-up of a mass killing, and Oberlin’s complicity.”  

Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a leading Baháʼí intellectual, said Mr. Mahallati ”legitimizes the mass executions in the 1980s.” 

Regrettably, despite the promise of Ms. Ambar, Oberlin College’s President and Mr. Hertz, chief of staff, to investigate Mr. Mahallati’s role in this atrocity, they did not publish any report, did not engage with the families of the victims, and allowed Mr. Mahallati to go back to teaching students. We repeat our campaign demand of October 2020 and ask for Mr. Mahallati’s immediate removal.    

Oberlin Committee for Justice for Mahallati’s Victims 

Due to COVID travel restrictions we will stream the event on ZOOM so our supporters can join virtually and support us.

Contact: Lawdan Bazargan: Tel: 562-212-9546  Email: JusticeforMahallatiVictims@gmail.com 

Additional quotes follow on the second page. 

Quote Sheet

Khatereh Moini, sister of Hebat Moini one of the victims of the 1988 Massacre, who lost 12 family members in the 1980s to the atrocities of the Islamic Regime of Iran wrote: In the tragedy of the massacre of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, my brother Hebat Moini and my brother-in-law Kasra Akbari Kurdestani, who were serving their unjust sentences in prison, were killed and buried in unmarked mass graves in Khavaran, one of the many sites of mass graves in Iran. Mr. Mahallati one of the perpetrators of this crime against humanity played an active and decisive role, and I, as a plaintiff and witness to these crimes, urge the authorities and the president of Oberlin College to revoke Mahallati’s permission to interact with the students. He is not fit to teach and must be fired.” (khatereh.moini@gmail.com)

Banoo Saberi, the wife of one of the victims, Abbas Ali Monshi Roodsari wrote; “My husband was arrested in August 1965 and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. But nearly two years later, the prisons authorities gave us two bags containing his personal belongings. My husband was a college student, studying medicine and we had two small children. Abbas was killed in secret along with thousands of others. Until a few years ago, the Islamic regime had the general policy of denying the killings, although all the Iranian officials were aware of this atrocity ordered but the Supreme Leader, Khomeini. Mr. Mahallati as a senior diplomat of the Islamic Republic in the United Nations, followed the policies of the Islamic Republic, seeking to justify the killings or denying them altogether. All those who had governmental positions at that time, by their silence, helped to perpetuate this massacre. Mahallati must tell the truth and give us all the information he has been hiding all these years. His disclosure will help the efforts of the families of the victims in learning the truth and seeking justice. (banoo_saberi@yahoo.com)

Melissa Landa, an Oberlin graduate class of 1986 said, “By allowing Mahallati to taint students’ minds and to remain on the institutional payroll, Oberlin College has demonstrated its low ethical standards and its lack of a moral compass.” (melissa@alliance4israel.org)

Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor and an Oberlin alum noted, “This case is yet another in a series of highly troubling incidents at Oberlin, reflecting insensitive and indifferent attitudes by the Administration towards certain communities. Given the allegations against Mr. Mahallati stemming from his time as a diplomatic official for the Revolutionary Iranian regime and documented antisemitic statements, it is incumbent on Ms. Amber and other senior administration officials to launch an independent and fully transparent investigation, including consultation with victims’ families. Failure to do so will be another stain on the College, marring its once brave and illustrious history.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post: “Has Mr. Mahallati apologized for his antisemitic and anti-Baha’i sentiments made while he was a shill for the Iranian regime at the United Nations? Does he still support the genocide-seeking Holocaust-denying Iranian regime? Organizers and Oberlin College should also check Amnesty International’s report that Mahallati committed crimes against humanity by covering up the mass murder of at least 5,000 Iranian political prisoners during 1988 at the UN.” (Acooper@wiesenthal.com)

Niloofar Beyzaie, Iranian playwright and theater director: It is really unfortunate that someone like Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, with a well documented history of justifying and covering up the killing of thousands of political prisoners is now employed at a University in a democratic country. Mahallati is also guilty of portraying a false picture of Baha’i people, spreading false propaganda against this community and creating the conditions for the repression of the Baha’is in Iran. I strongly condemn the irresponsible decision of hiring Mahallati and creating a platform for one of the key executioner of repression in Iran. People who promote Mahallati & his repressive ideas and teracings must be held accountable.

Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh said: “Mohammad Jafar Mahallati is an ex-diplomat and intellectual for a totalitarian Islamic Dictator. He has to support the ideological pillars of the Islamic regime and propagate them. Anti-Israeli antisemitism and Anti-Baháʼísm belong to the core of the totalitarian ideology of Iran. As a result, it is no way surprising that a cultural ambassador of the regime, as such representatives of the regime are named, advocates inhumane positions. He also legitimizes the mass executions in the 1980’s.”  

Shadi Sadr, the executive director of Justice for Iran and a Human Rights Lawyer said, “It is clear that Mahallati is an accomplice in a huge human rights violation. Oberlin College’s inaction against Mahallati shows a betrayal of accountability.” (shadi.sadr@justiceforiran.org)

Shadi Amin, Executive Director of 6Rang (Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network): “In my opinion, until Oberlin College does not take proper actions against Mahallati, one of the accomplices of the Islamic Republic crimes, during whose time the execution and repression of homosexuals were carried out, Oberlin College’s commitment to gay rights (LGBT) should be questioned.” (shadiashadi@gmail.com)

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