Press Release: Second Protest at Oberlin against Mahallati for his Involvement in 1988 Massacre

We, a group of families of executed political prisoners in Iran, Oberlin College students, alumni, and human rights activists, will protest for the second time at Oberlin to urge Oberlin’s Board of Trustees to order school officials to investigate the reported crimes against humanity conducted by the College tenured Professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati and oust him.

The protest celebrates International Women’s Day and will be held on Saturday, March 5, 2022, from 12 to 2 PM EST at the corner of College Street & Main Street, Oberlin, Ohio.   

After more than a year of advocacy, extensive media coverage, interviews by family members of victims of the 1988 Massacre and independent experts, and most importantly, a large protest on campus attended by many students and concerned citizens on November 2, 2021, President Ambar and the Oberlin administration has failed to transparently address the issues we outlined in our initial letter or engage in any constructive forms with the families of victims. 

Thus, on December 28, 2021, we turned to the Oberlin College Board of Trustees (Board), made them aware of the injustice of having a professor on staff who reportedly was complicit in the massacre of 5000 innocent Iranian citizens, and sought their assistance in implementing transparency and accountability. We were hopeful that the Board would put the College’s values above any politics because of a precedent when they intervened in Joy Karega‘sscandal and rightfully removed her from her position. We expected the Board would take seriously Amnesty International’s report Blood-Soaked Secrets: Why Iran’s 1988 Prison Massacres Are Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity and the assessment of Amnesty’s Senior Research Adviser, seriously enough that “All former and current officials who continue to treat the mass killings as state secrets effectively stand with those who have blood on their hands.” 

To our dismay, the Board decided to ignore our letter and  Oberlin Review’s Editorial Board’s assessment that “Evidence against Mahallati was irrefutable.” In addition, documents show that Mahallati stoked incitement against the people of the Baha’i faith and delivered Anti-Semitic speeches against Israel and Jewish people at the UN.

Thus, we are taking the fight to the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College, including the chair, Chris Canavan, vice-chair Chelsey Maddox-Dorsey, and Amy Chen, the first chief investment officer at the Smithsonian Institution. We believe the continuation of employment of Mr. Mahallati violates Oberlin College’s historical stance on inclusion, respect, and tolerance.

We are heartened by the outpouring of support from the Oberlin Community that prides itself on pursuing justice. Oberlin’s Board should assume the same principled stance in support of the victims’ families rather than tarnish the university’s reputation, which is rightfully damaged with each day that its leadership denies accountability. Prospective students and donors are watching whether the school’s Board of Trustees will act with integrity and oust Mohammad Jafar Mahallati. 

Committee for Justice for Mahallati’s Victims 

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

Due to COVID travel restrictions, we will stream the event on ZOOM so our supporters can join virtually and support us. https://fullerton.zoom.us/j/81343490252


Lawdan Bazargan (Human Rights Activist) “For the past 43 years the gender-Apartheid regime of Iran has discriminated against women, diminished their value to half of a man, promoted polygamy, excluded women from the leadership and public sphere, and ignored their basic human rights. People like Mahallati are the propaganda machine of this brutal regime and normalize these crimes and hide the true nature of this oppressive regime. Protecting Mahallati and ignoring the families of the victims of Mahallati proves lack of leadership and shameful failure of the administration.”

Kaveh Shahrooz (College Professor and Human Rights Lawyer): “The Oberlin administration has refused to conduct a fair and transparent investigation of a man we believe was responsible for hiding crimes against humanity from the world. For that reason, we will continue to demand justice by every legal means possible.”

Dr. Farangiss Bayat (Political Theorist and Security Analyst) “The prestigious University of Oberlin should be the promoter of liberal values in the name and manner. The continued employment of notorious figures such as Mahallati mocks the credibility of the Oberlin College and these values. Resisting the expulsion of Mahallati is resistance to the true values that young men and women must learn at this university. Firing Mahallati is protecting our children and our society.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi (Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute): “The Islamic Republic is, like the Taliban and ISIS, a state founded on an ideology of women’s inequality. Every day for the last 43 years, Iranian girls and women have endured the legalized humiliations of segregation, control over their dress and movement, exclusion from all manner of opportunities, the lack of basic rights in the family and society, and state-sanctioned violence. Also, during the last 43 years, Iranian girls and women have been abandoned by the West’s feminists. Progressive institutions like Oberlin College protect the abusers of Iranian women’s rights rather than shame them.”

Dr. Reza Parchizadeh (Political Theorist and Security Analyst): “Mohammad Jafar Mahallati is just one member of the Islamic Republic’s vast network of influence in American universities, aimed at normalizing the regime’s crimes in the American public mind and gaining concessions from the US government. Negotiations to revive the Defective Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are underway in Vienna at a sensitive time like now. Therefore, the issue of Mahallati is not only the issue of Iranians who themselves or their family members have fallen victim to this person and his behavior in Iran. The Islamic Republic’s academic influence network is a security threat to the United States, and it must be dealt with accordingly.”

Hassan Dai (Researcher and Political Activist): “It is stunning that some former high-ranking Iranian officials are welcomed into the US and recycled as scholars in the most prestigious universities. As diplomats, they had represented a barbaric regime that not only has the most horrific record of human rights violations but has also been considered by consecutive US administrations as the main sponsor of terrorism in the world. Some, like Mahallati, were actively involved in covering up the Iranian regime’s crimes against humanity. Ironically, these former officials present themselves as the new ambassadors for peace between the US and Iran. At the same time, they are field commanders for running the mullahs’ lobby machinery and misinformation campaign in the US.”

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