US College says no evidence of its prof. covering up Iranian massacre

Activists and students are planning to demonstrate the continued tenure of Mohammad Jafar Mahallati by Oberlin College, Ohio, following accusations by Amnesty International of complicity in crimes against humanity. 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

Oberlin College, Ohio, has said that it has found no evidence that a Professor at the college made antisemitic comments, nor that he helped in covering up a massacre by the Iranian regime, despite accusations of crimes against humanity made by Amnesty International.

Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who currently holds a position as the Nancy Schrom Dye Chair as a Professor of Religion at Oberlin College, was the subject of an open letter sent to the College last year calling for him to be fired, and for the College to apologize for his hiring.

The letter was signed by 57 family members of political prisoners and victims of a 1988 massacre carried out by the Iranian regime, plus a further 577 signatories, all pointing to Mahallati’s role in the massacre and subsequent cover up.

“While Iran’s regime has committed numerous human rights violations throughout its 40-year history, its mass killing of political prisoners in the summer of 1988 stands out for its depravity and cruelty,” the letter noted, detailing how political prisoners were given summary trials lasting mere minutes before being sentenced to death.

The letter’s authors pointed to a report by Amnesty International which detailed how Mahallati, in his role as Iran’s permanent representative to the U.N. in New York at the time, denied the mass executions during a meeting with the U.N. Special Representative. Instead he claimed the deaths had occurred on the battlefield during the invasion of Iran by a militant group.

“Mahallati’s claim, it is worth noting, has been proved categorically false again and again,” the letter said.

Last week two activists, Len Khodorkovsky and Lawdan Bazargan, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Examiner titled The Butcher of Oberlin, further detailing Mahallati’s role in the massacre and cover up, and also antisemitic and anti-Baha’i statements he made during the course of his career.

“Oberlin College gave Mahallati the title of “Professor of Peace.” Not only is this “peace professor” implicated in the killing of thousands of Iranians, but he also called for the destruction of Israel and has a long record of antisemitic statements,” the pair wrote.

They continued: “During a speech at the U .N. in 1989, Mahallati called Israel “an Islamic territory, an Islamic heritage,” and “an Islamic point of identity.” He concluded, “Its occupation by Zionist usurpers is a transgression against all Muslims of the world, and its liberation is therefore a great religious obligation and commitment.”

“Oberlin’s professor of peace also complained about the condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s persecution of its peaceful Baha’i community , drawing a moral equivalence between this and the fact that the “European Parliament had the right to retrain the activities of the followers of certain sects” and “the United States had the right to execute murderers.””

But on Friday, the Oberlin Review reported that the college had concluded its investigation into Mahallati, and had found no evidence of wrongdoing.

In a statement sent by Director of Media Relations Scott Wargo to the Review, the College said: “After becoming aware of the allegations against Professor Mahallati, Oberlin initiated its own process to determine their validity. After consulting a number of sources and evaluating the public record, the College could find no evidence to corroborate the allegations against Professor Mahallati, including that he had specific knowledge of the murders taking place in Iran.”

It added: “His record at Oberlin includes no instances of the antisemitic or anti-Israel behavior of which he has been accused.”

On November 2, family members of the 1988 victims, as well as students, alumni and human rights activists will protest outside the College’s administrative building to again call for Mahallati to be removed from his tenured position.

“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,” Khatereh Moini, who lost 12 family members including a brother to the Khomeni regime told Ohio’s Chronicle. “He is not fit to teach and must be fired.”

“Oberlin College has been completely nonresponsive to the demands of hundreds of survivors and families of the 1988 massacre,” said Kaveh Shahrooz, whose uncle was killed. “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.”