Reports of Iranian schoolgirls being poisoned at school continue to stream in from across Iran, with over 1,000 students in more than 50 schools impacted so far, according to opposition reports this week.
The poisonings were first reported in late November, with the pace of reports rising in recent weeks. On Wednesday, at least eight schools throughout Iran reported poisoning incidents in one day, according to opposition media.
Iranian officials have varied in their responses to the poisonings, with some claiming the symptoms being reported are largely caused by stress and others stating that the incidents seem to be intentional and that security forces are investigating.
Footage from hospitals throughout Iran shows girls being brought to emergency rooms and put on oxygen. Footage from the schools shows girls sitting outside, some collapsing and others coughing heavily.
Investigations launched 3 months after poisonings began
Iranian officials have stated that the poisonings are being investigated, with some officials calling the incidents “subversive operations” and “intimidations.” The announcements of an investigation come three months after the first reports of poisonings.Homayoun Sameyah Najafabadi, a member of the health and treatment commission of the Iranian Parliament and a representative of the Iranian Jewish community, told ILNA that the first poisoning case was reported in Yazd and was determined to be an accident, but suspicions were raised concerning the cases that came after.
Najafabadi claimed that many of the cases being reported were “false symptoms” caused by “nervousness and anxiety” sparked by the heavy presence of emergency services at the scenes of reported poisonings, adding, however, that some of the cases were not false.”Whether in Tehran or in other cities, the amount of substance or gas that caused complications in children is at a level that did not cause severe poisoning, and most of these children were discharged and went to their homes by night. The number of people who were hospitalized for more than one day was a very low percentage, and in the end, there were no deaths among the students,” said Najafabadi, recommending that emergency services and schools take care to keep the situation calm in these incidents.
The Iranian parliamentarian stated that the individuals conducting the poisonings were trying to attack Iran’s education system and called on parents to keep sending their children to school. “The person or those who do this work aim to create terror in the society and we must deal with it knowing what our side’s goal is.”
Ensiyeh Khazali, Vice President for Women and Family Affairs of the President of Iran, announced that a special committee had been formed to follow up on the poisonings and identify the causes, according to IRNA. Khazali claimed that the poisonings were being “abused and exploited politically.”
Vahid Jalalzadeh, the head of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, stated that Iranian authorities are investigating to see if the poisonings are being conducted by foreigners.
One suspect arrested in string of poisonings
At least one individual has been arrested in relation to one poisoning incident at a school in Shahin Shahr, according to the Mehr News Agency.
According to the 1500tasvir account, which covers anti-government protests in Iran, some students have seen plainclothes security agents outside the schools right before the poisonings.
Some reported eyewitness accounts have claimed that a small explosion was heard at some of the schools followed by a strong smell and then the symptoms of poisoning began.
Earlier this week, a woman was assaulted while standing outside a school where a poisoning was reported. Four individuals suspected of assaulting her have been arrested, according to Iranian reports.
Videos reportedly from Tehran showed students and parents chanting “death to the dictator” and “death to the child-killing government” in protests against the poisonings.
On Wednesday, the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute assessed with moderate confidence that the Iranian government is tolerating the poisonings, as there is indirect evidence that the regime is not sufficiently responding to the attacks.
UNICEF warned that the poisonings could have “a negative impact on the high rate of education for children, especially girls, which has been achieved in recent decades.”
Poisonings come after months of anti-government protests
The increasingly frequent poisonings come after anti-government protests that had swept Iran for months decreased since the beginning of the year.
Last September, anti-government protests broke out across Iran after Mahsa Amini was murdered by “Morality Police” in Tehran. At the end of December and in early January, the protests began to decline somewhat, with only sporadic footage of protests published throughout January and February.
A teachers union in Iran announced on Thursday that they would hold protests in Tehran in light of the poisonings. The union requested a permit to protest from the Interior Ministry.
Source » jpost