Who is poisoning the Iranian schoolgirls and why hasn’t the Iranian government stopped them?

Hundreds of schoolgirls have been poisoned in schools in 10 to 15 cities across Iran since November 30, 2022, and the Iranian government finally acknowledged the seriousness of the situation this week and promised an investigation. There has been no official number of students affected by what appears to be a poisonous gas, but BBC Persian has determined that at least 830 students, most of them schoolgirls, have been poisoned since Sunday, while an Iranian lawmaker put the number at 1,200 students on Tuesday.

Some boys have been poisoned, but nearly all of the incidents occurred in all-female primary and secondary schools. No deaths have been reported.

The poison attacks started in the city of Qom, but they have spread; On Wednesday, girls from dozens of schools across the country were poisoned. Tehran has often downplayed the attacks, calling the poisonings “mild” or blaming the symptoms for “stress.” Iran’s Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri ordered an investigation last week and said the outbreak of poisonings “indicates the possibility of deliberate criminal action”.

Parents are angry and terrified, CNN reports, and students described seeing classmates fall to the floor after smelling noxious odors.

The cause, motive and perpetrators of the poisonings are unknown. Deputy Health Minister Younes Panahi said at a press conference on Feb. 26 that it is “clear that some people wanted all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed,” according to the state news agency IRNA, though he later retracted the statement, saying he was wrong quoted.

Some Iranians have speculated that religious hardliners opposed to educating girls are behind the serial poisonings, while others see the attacks as retaliation for the massive student-led protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini. The American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project (CTP) ruled on Wednesday “with moderate confidence that the Iranian regime will tolerate a nationwide, coordinated campaign to poison Iranian schoolgirls.”

“Iranian officials, media outlets and the church establishment have raised the alarm” about Thursday’s ongoing poison attacks, the CTP said early Friday. Iran has a robust security apparatus, but it is not clear “what meaningful action the regime has taken to identify and prosecute perpetrators of continued attacks or to secure Iranian educational facilities”, and this “continued failure to respond in the manner a normal, modern government would be almost inexplicable.”

“The Iranian government has a strong focus on education”, and women make up “more than 50 percent of Iran’s university students”, The Washington Post notes, citing the World Bank. “Tehran has repeatedly urged the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan to reverse its ban on girls’ education.”

You may also like this

Jurassic-era insect discovered at Walmart in Arkansas

Fox News vs. Dominion: ‘A turning point of journalistic misdeeds’

Black, sooty whiskey mold spreads through bourbon country, pitting homeowners against distilleries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *