Iranian diplomat turned U.S. professor accused of crimes against humanity

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Abzar Boresh Kaveh Co.

Abzar Boresh Kaveh Co.

A group of former Iranian political prisoners and human rights activists sent a letter on Wednesday to the president of the prestigious Oberlin College in Ohio, demanding that the college’s management terminate religion professor Mohammad Jafar Mahallati after accusations came out saying he allegedly played a role in crimes against humanity.

Kaveh Shahrooz, a lawyer based in Canada, posted the letter online, writing on Twitter that: ”Today, on behalf of hundreds of victims, families & human rights experts, I wrote Oberlin College president [Carmen Twillie] Ambar objecting to the employment of M.J. Mahallati, a man implicated in the coverup of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran.”

Shahrooz published a string of tweets outlining the allegations against Jafar Mahallati, who is described on Oberlin College’s website as the “Presidential Scholar in Islamic Studies, and a tenured faculty at Department of Religion. Currently, he serves as the Nancy Schrom Dye Chair of Middle East and North African Studies (MENA).”

Prior to joining Oberlin College in 2007, Mahallati was the ambassador to the UN for the Islamic Republic of Iran during the Iranian regime’s 1988 massacre of political prisoners.
The letter, which was signed by 626 people, said Mahallati’s aim at the UN was to “obfuscate and lie to the international community about mass crimes perpetrated by the Iranian regime.”.

“Based on no more than a few questions about their political or religious beliefs, prisoners who had already faced (albeit inadequate) trials and sentencing, who had served several years in prison, and who had been subjected to gruesome torture were sent by the Death Commission to hang,” the letter said.

Shahrooz, a prominent human rights advocate, wrote that: “The killings are now widely seen as constituting crimes against humanity. According to Iran’s second in command at the time, 3,800 prisoners were killed then. The number may be higher.”

He continued, writing that “those prisoners who gave an answer unsatisfactory to the Death Commission were sent to a special line and hanged minutes later. My own uncle was among them. To this day, we don’t know where he’s buried,“ adding “as word got out about the killings, Amnesty and other groups began to send letters, telexes, and correspondences to Iranian officials. So, there’s simply no way to believe that Iran’s Ambassador the UN was unaware that this was happening.”

Shahrooz said “in fact, we know that Mr. Mahallati was aware of the killings. Because he’s quoted about them in UN reports. But he’s quoted as denying and downplaying them. He effectively misled the international community so the killings could continue.”

Scott Wargo, director of Media Relations for Oberlin College, wrote The Jerusalem Post by email, saying “Professor Mahallati is a tenured professor and has been a teacher at Oberlin since 2007. We received the letter today expressing concerns about his statements during a meeting with United Nations representatives more than 30 years ago. We are in touch with Professor Mahallati to gather additional information.” The Post sent a press query to Jafar Mahallati on Thursday.

According to Shahrooz, “the majority of the prisoners killed (perhaps all) had been in prison, far from any battlefield, for years. Many of those killed were leftists who had nothing to do with any armed battle against Iran’s government. Mahallati must have known this. But he lied.”

He continued, stating that “[Mahalatti] did it as part of the cover-up of the largest killing in contemporary Iranian history. He is an accomplice to that cover-up, which continues to this day. As Amnesty and others have noted, families of victims are still not allowed to commemorate their loved ones.”

Shahrooz said the victims demands are “an explanation of how Mahallati was hired; what kind of due diligence was done on his record; remove Mr. Mahallati from his position; an apology to the victims and their families.”

Source » jpost

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