A series of incidents in the past three months have occurred in Iran, and the most recent one involves a suspected attack on students in a city east of Tehran.
According to an Iranian news agency, dozens of schoolgirls were hospitalized on Tuesday due to a mysterious poisoning incident, the latest in a series of suspected attacks in Iran.
In the past three months, hundreds of Iranian schoolgirls, mostly in the city of Qom, south of Tehran, have reported respiratory distress cases, with some requiring hospital treatment.
According to a government official, the recent attacks were made intentionally to force the closure of girls’ schools.
On Tuesday, the Tasnim news agency reported that a group of students from the Khayyam girls’ school in Pardis, Tehran province, were poisoned around noon.
The report stated that 35 students had been taken to the hospital. This incident is the latest among hundreds of poisoning cases since November in at least two other cities, including Qom.
The recent poisonings in Iran happened more than five months after nationwide protests sparked by 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody following her arrest for violating the country’s strict dress code for women.
In the past week, Borujerd, a western city in Iran, experienced its fourth incident of students being rushed to the hospital due to a similar poisoning incident at a girls’ school.
On Tuesday, Iran’s parliament met to discuss the suspected attacks. According to the official IRNA news agency, the health minister, Bahram Eynollahi, was present during the meeting.
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the speaker of the parliament, was quoted by IRNA as saying that both Qom and Borujerd were “dealing with student poisonings.”
According to Iran’s deputy health minister, Younes Panahi, some individuals had deliberately poisoned students at a girls’ school in Qom to end education for girls. The statement was made on Sunday.
As reported by IRNA, Panahi stated that following the poisoning of students in Qom schools, it was discovered that certain people intended to close down all schools, particularly those for girls. However, he did not provide further details.
No arrests have been made yet about the poisonings.
Activists have compared the individuals responsible for the suspected attacks to groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Boko Haram in the Sahel, who oppose girls’ education.
According to IRNA, parents of sick students gathered outside Qom’s governorate on February 14 to demand an explanation from authorities.
The government spokesperson, Ali Bahadori Jahromi, announced the next day that the intelligence and education ministries were investigating to determine the cause of the poisonings.
Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, Iran’s prosecutor general, ordered a judicial investigation into the incidents last week.
Ahmad Amiri Farahani, Qom’s representative in parliament, condemned the suspected attack on schoolgirls as irrational and stated that the city’s residents support girls’ education.
Massoumeh Ebtekar, former Iranian reformist vice-president, expressed regret over the repetition of the crime of poisoning girls on Tuesday and urged authorities to eradicate misogynistic fanatics.