Two Iranian Professors Dismissed After Supporting Scholar Protests


In early 2020, lawyer Meghdad Jebelli took the drastic choice to depart Iran and search asylum within the West.

Jebelli, whose elder brother is a key determine within the clerical regime, left his homeland simply weeks after Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) shot down a Ukrainian passenger aircraft over the capital, Tehran.

All 176 individuals on board, largely Iranians and Canadians, had been killed after the Kyiv-bound aircraft was hit by surface-to-air missiles on January 8, 2020. Amongst them was Jebelli’s nephew, a 29-year-old medical pupil.

After three days of denials and amid rising worldwide stress, the IRGC admitted to capturing down the aircraft “unintentionally” after misidentifying it as a risk amid heightened tensions with america. Tehran’s delayed declare of accountability for the shootdown sparked indignant protests in Iran and elevated mistrust within the clerical regime.

The incident didn’t have an effect on the loyalty of Jebelli’s eldest brother, Peyman Jebelli, the top of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the state-run entity that runs all radio and TV broadcasting within the Islamic republic.

However for 39-year-old Meghdad Jebelli and his 43-year-old brother, Meisam, the tragedy was a turning level. The 2 siblings quickly went into self-imposed exile in Canada.

The brothers have develop into critics of Iran’s clerical institution and members of the Canada-based Affiliation of Victims’ Households of Flight PS752 that’s searching for justice for the victims of the tragedy.

In an interview with RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, Jebelli stated cracks inside his household emerged quickly after he expressed his suspicions over the authorities’ preliminary denial.

“Throughout the first couple of days, as a result of movies that emerged, it was evident to us that the aircraft had been hit. We stated it. I bear in mind we had fights and arguments [with my family members] throughout these days,” he stated.

“They reacted harshly and stated that we had been being fooled by the [foreign] media,” he stated, including that his kinfolk took “the place of the institution.”

‘Tense Ambiance’

In response, Jebelli accused his relations of “ignoring” what he described because the “homicide” of his nephew.

“They [said] it’s a conflict in any case and it’s attainable that somebody will get [killed]. With such justifications, they had been ignoring the homicide of their very own baby,” he stated.

Days earlier than the tragedy, a U.S. drone strike had killed IRGC commander Common Qasem Soleimani in neighboring Iraq. Hours earlier than the Ukrainian aircraft was shot down, Iran had launched missile strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq to avenge Soleimani’s killing, and Tehran’s air defenses had been on high-alert in case of a U.S. retaliation, which by no means got here.

Iranian officers later stated a number of individuals had been detained and charged over the “disastrous mistake.” No senior officers had been dismissed and none resigned over the incident.

Jebelli stated he “could not take it any longer” and determined to depart his homeland.

“I used to be married, and my life was separate [from my family]. Meisam used to sleep [at my parent’s home] at evening however he modified his place of residence,” he stated, including that they left the nation weeks later.

Even earlier than the downing of the Ukrainian passenger aircraft, Jebelli stated he had clashed with members of his household over their political variations. He stated he participated within the mass road protests following the 2009 disputed presidential election regardless of opposition from his household.

“My mom discovered about it, and it led to a tense ambiance at residence,” he recalled.

‘Do Not Assume You Are Protected’

Jebelli stated he has returned twice to Iran since transferring to Canada. Throughout his second journey, he stated, he was threatened over the cellphone by a person who launched himself as a good friend of his brother, Peyman Jebelli.

He stated the person questioned him about his life in Canada and his visits to Iran.

“On the finish, he stated very critically, ‘I’m now telling you in a pleasant means, watch your habits, watch what you might be doing. Don’t assume that you’re protected [because] you aren’t in Iran,’” he stated.

Jebelli stated the person reminded him of the destiny of Iranian journalist Ruhollah Zam, the supervisor of the favored opposition Telegram channel Amad information who was executed by Iran in 2020 after being convicted of “corruption on Earth,” a cost typically leveled in circumstances involving espionage or makes an attempt to overthrow the regime.

Zam had been residing and dealing in exile in France earlier than being arrested in 2019 below nonetheless unclear circumstances. In accordance with media experiences, the dissident was allegedly lured to Iraq by Iranian brokers.

Jebelli stated the cellphone name eliminated any doubts he had about his choice to maneuver to Canada. “I turned assured that I didn’t belong in Iran anymore,” he stated.

Jebelli stated he and his youthful brother, Meisam, aren’t simply searching for justice for these killed within the 2020 downing of the Ukrainian aircraft.

“I’ve at all times stated that actual justice will solely be achieved when the perpetrators of the crimes of the previous 44 years are punished,” he stated, referring to the clerics who got here to energy following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. “This will solely occur with the overthrow of the Islamic regime.”

Peyman Jebelli has downplayed his brothers’ choice to depart Iran.

“Related incidents have occurred prior to now,” he was quoted as saying by Iranian media. His feedback got here quickly after TIME journal interviewed Meisam Jebelli, who accused his elder sibling of being “in command of the regime’s greatest propaganda machine” and mendacity “to my face.”

Peyman Jebelli (file photograph)

“I noticed his feedback,” Peyman Jebelli stated. “I’m unsure to what extent it was of his personal free will, however these incidents aren’t new.”

Peyman Jebelli was straight appointed by Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is accountable to no person however him. IRIB has come below criticism from rights activists and dissidents and has been accused of airing compelled confessions and carrying political and non secular propaganda.

Meghdad Jebelli stated many Iranian households have develop into divided as extra individuals flip towards the regime.

Iran has been rocked by nationwide antiestablishment protests for the reason that dying of a girl quickly after she was arrested by Iran’s morality police. The continued demonstrations are the largest risk to the regime in years.

“In lots of households, kids and younger individuals take part in protests whereas telling their dad and mom that they’re going to a celebration,” Jebelli stated.

Written by Golnaz Esfandiari primarily based on an interview carried out by Babak Ghafooriazar.

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