Iran investigates suspected schoolgirl poisonings

Dubai, United Arab Emirates –

Over the past three months, hundreds of girls attending various schools in Iran have been overwhelmed by what they believe to be toxic fumes wafting into their classrooms, leaving some emaciated in hospital beds.

Iranian theocracy officials initially dismissed these incidents, but now describe them as deliberate attacks involving about 30 schools identified in local media reports, with 8,000 We speculate that it may be aimed at closing girls’ schools in this country of over 10,000 people.

The reported attack comes at a sensitive time for Iran. Iran is already facing months of protests after the death of Mercer Amini in September following his arrest by the country’s moral police.

Authorities have not released the name of the suspect, but the attack has raised concerns that other girls may be poisoned just to get an education. urges girls and women to return to school.

The first case occurred in Qom, about 125 kilometers (80 miles) southwest of Iran’s capital Tehran, in late November. Students at the Nur Yazdanshar Conservatory, a center for Shia theologians and pilgrims, fell ill in November. Then they fell ill again in December.

Other cases followed, with children complaining of headaches, palpitations, lethargy, or otherwise being unable to move.

Initially, authorities did not link the incident. It is winter in Iran, where the temperature often drops below freezing at night. Many schools are heated with natural gas, leading to speculation that carbon monoxide poisoning may be affecting the girls. bottom.

However, the schools affected initially taught only young women, which strengthened the suspicion that it was no coincidence. At least one case of her followed in Tehran, and others in Qom and Borojerd. At least one boys’ school has also been targeted.

Slowly, authorities began taking the allegations seriously. Iran’s Prosecutor General has ordered an investigation into the “possible willful criminal act”. The Iranian Ministry of Information reportedly also investigated.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA published several articles on Sunday, with officials acknowledging the extent of the crisis.

IRNA quoted Health Undersecretary Younes Panahi saying, “After several instances of a student being poisoned at a rubber school, we have learned that some want all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed. ‘ said.

Health ministry spokesman Pedrum Pakayen said the poisoning was not due to a virus or microorganism.

MP Ali Reza Monadi, a member of the school board, said the addiction was “intentional.”

According to IRNA, “The existence of a demonic will to prevent girls’ education is a serious danger and is viewed as very bad news,” he said. I have to.”

Parents have already pulled students out of classes, effectively closing several schools in Qom in recent weeks, according to a report by Tehran-based reformist news website Shargh. Another suspected attack was reported Tuesday targeting a girls’ school in Pardis, an eastern suburb of Tehran.

Given the government’s crackdown on all dissent due to protests and internet slowdowns, verifiable information remains difficult to obtain from Iran, resulting in poisoning. At least 95 journalists have been arrested by authorities since the protests began, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Overall, at least 530 people were killed and 19,700 detained in the security force crackdown, according to Iranian human rights activists.

Iran has had attacks on women in the past, the most recent being a series of acid attacks around Isfahan in 2014. But even in the turmoil surrounding the Islamic Revolution, no one targeted female students for attending classes.

Jamileh Kadivar, a prominent former reformist lawmaker and journalist, wrote in Tehran’s Ettelaat newspaper that poisoning had made as many as 400 students sick.

She warned that “rebel” groups may be behind the attacks. But she also raised the possibility of “domestic extremists” who “seek to replace the Islamic Republic with a caliphate or Taliban-type Islamic emirate.”

Citing what appears to be a communiqué of a group calling itself Fidayeen Velayat, she said that “the study of girls is considered haram” and that if girls’ schools remained open, “the He is said to have threatened to spread addiction.

Iranian officials do not recognize a group called Fidayeen Velayat. This translates loosely into English as “guardian devotees.” But Kadivar mentioned the threat in her print because she continues to be influential in Iranian politics and is linked to its theocratic ruling class. The head of the Ettelaat newspaper has also been appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Another prominent reformist politician, Azar Mansouri, also linked the alleged poison attack to hardline groups, referring to the Isfahan acid attack.

“We said the acid attack was systematic. You said: ‘You are confusing public opinion!'” Mansouri wrote online. “If the agents of the attack had been identified and punished, there would be no reactionary groups beating innocent girls in schools today.”

Activists also fear this could be a disturbing new trend in the country.

“This is a very fundamentalist way of thinking in society,” said Hadi Gaemi, executive director of the New York-based Iranian Center for Human Rights. “I don’t know how widespread this group is, but the fact that they were able to do so without committing a crime is very disturbing.”

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