Despite hundreds imploring the removal of a professor from his post for covering up heinous human rights violations as an Iranian former diplomat, Oberlin College administration continues to neglect the damage inflicted on victims by actively turning a blind eye to criticism.
Although families of victims, members of the international community, and journalists have attempted to contact President Carmen Ambar and other senior faculty members at Oberlin College since October 2020, they have been ignored or blocked on social media. A letter written by Justice for Iran asking for Mahallati’s removal and apology to the victims’ community to hire him in the first place has been left unanswered since May 2021.
Mohammad Jafar Mahallati is an accomplice to the international coverup of the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in 1988 during his post as a representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN. Now, as a professor of Middle East and North African Studies at Oberlin College, Mahallati preaches peace despite refusing to take accountability for his past activities.
“Clearly, there is evidence of Oberlin College faculty being aware of the accusations made against Mahallati, yet they are choosing to not acknowledge their mistakes in hiring Mr Mahallati,” said Shadi Sadr, Co-Director of Justice for Iran, regarding the College’s latent action.
While in his position at the UN, Mahallati called the allegations of the massacre ‘fake’ and ‘unjust’, according to documents revealed by Amnesty International. As the ‘concealment of fate and whereabouts’ is a fundamental element of the international crime of enforced disappearance, anyone who has aided and abetted can be complicit in the crime. This includes Mahallati, who not only participated in the state campaign to cover up the massacre and enforced disappearances, but also continues to serve as an accomplice by not speaking out against the crimes.
“Even if his statement in response to the public outcry that “he had no knowledge of mass killings” when he was serving as the country’s ambassador to the United Nations is true, exactly when did he become aware of the killings, and what actions he has taken since then?” Sadr said in response to Mahallati’s denial.
Joining hundreds of survivors and families of victims Justice for Iran asked for the expulsion of Mahallati from Oberlin College, as well as a formal apology to those affected by the 1988 massacre, to be taken in lieu of the lack of due diligence. Instead, President Ambar has yet to act appropriately and has chosen to ignore all criticism.
In a joint report with Amnesty International between 2016-2018, Justice for Iran detailed evidence of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s secret mass graves of political prisoners, hence concealing what amounts to crime against humanity. At the time, Mohammad Jafar Mahallati was one of the most vital figures of the international coverup campaign as Iran’s permanent representative to the UN in New York.
Though Mahallati’s knowledge of the coverup is evident, he has denied the extra judicial executions and enforced disappearances, claiming that UN reports of the massacre are propaganda. He has further dismissed any evidence of the crime, therefore continuing to be an accomplice and denying the victims, survivors and their families any respect or remorse.
Enforced disappearance is a crime under international law. The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) has recognised Iranian political prisoners who were subjected to the mass executions in the summer of 1988 as forcibly disappeared persons, thus making the coverup campaign and Mahallati’s involvement in it an international crime.