Oberlin Timeline

Timeline of Mohammad Jafar Mahallati covering up the mass execution of Iranian political prisoners in 1988 at the U.N. Up to his denials as Professor of Religion and Nancy Schrom Dye Chair in Middle East and North African Studies at Oberlin College in 2021.

Protestes in Clevland and Oberlin College

Protesters from across the country gathered in Cleveland Public Square and in Oberlin College Memorial Arch. Many others took part in the gathering through zoom. They called for outside and independent investigation into Mahallati’s involvement and his denials on the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988.

Oberlin Review Editorial

The Oberlin College newspaper wrote an editorial titled “Evidence Against Mahallati Irrefutable”. The historically courageous article took on the Oberlin College investigation and the administration for supporting Mahallati. “This Editorial Board believes the evidence proves that, within a matter of months, Mahallati was aware of the killings.” “The conclusion to all of this is that Oberlin College, an institution we hold dear, is employing and defending someone likely responsible for covering up crimes against humanity.” “Iran has so successfully obfuscated its crimes against humanity — through mouthpieces like Mahallati and many others — that it has been able to continue…Read More

Oberlin College covers up Millet’s Denial

Oberlin College released a statement that it investigated the allegations and could find no evidence that Mahallati knew about Mass killings in Iran.

Mahallati Response

“I categorically deny any knowledge and therefore responsibility regarding mass executions in Iran when I was serving at the United Nations.”

Letter to Oberlin College

On Oct. 8, 2020, we sent a letter to Oberlin College. The letter alleged that, in his role as U.N. Ambassador for Iran, Mr. Mohammad Jafar Mahallati helped cover up mass killings in summer of 1988 and we asked for a fair investigation.

New York Times Report

The New York Times reported that Mr. Mahallati fought hard against a U.N. resolution that condemned Iran’s human rights record, including “a renewed wave of executions in the period July–September 1988 whereby a large number of persons died because of their political convictions.” According to the news report, Mr. Mahallati said that a report condemning Iran’s mass human rights violations constituted a “confrontation” with that country.

Amnesty International Report

In a detailed report from Amnesty International, the organization notes that it had issued at least 16 urgent action notices in 1988, starting on Aug. 16, alerting the international community that mass killings were occurring in Iran’s prisons.

Mass Killing of Political Prisoners

Over five months in 1988, Iran’s regime subjected thousands of political prisoners across the country to minutes-long “re-trials” — that failed to meet any international standards of due process — and was presided over by what prisoners came to call “Death Commissions.” Based on only a few questions about their political or religious beliefs, about 5,000 prisoners were killed that summer. During the summer in which these killings took place, Mr. Mahallati was Iran’s U.N. ambassador.

Mahallati carries on defending the Mass Killing at U.N.

In another oral statement to the U.N. intended to counter an Amnesty International briefing that laid out all the facts about the killings, Mr. Mahallati said that the Iranian regime had only executed “spies and terrorists.” He continued to deny these killings, calling them “political propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”

Mahallati’s Continual Denial.

In an oral statement issued at the U.N. in December 1988 — again, four months after Amnesty International’s urgent alerts, months after the U.N. noted the killings, and several months after thousands of families had spoken out about the execution of their loved ones — Mr. Mahallati made baseless allegations that reports of the killings were “misinformation” and an effort to “to make a propagandistic campaign in favor of a handful of foreign elements in Iran.”

U.N. Report

On Oct. 13, 1988, the U.N. reported that on July 28, 1988, “200 persons described as political prisoners… had been massacred in the central hall of Evin prison,” the report adds that “From Aug. 14–16, “860 bodies of executed political prisoners had been transferred” to a mass grave.

  1. Please join our protest on March 5, 2022, 12 pm to 2 pm at the corner of College & Main Street, at Oberlin Ohio
  2. Please write to Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar (cambar@oberlin.edu)
  3. Please write to the Board of Trustees of Oberlin College