By Chris King • 28 February 2023 • 18:55
Image of Payame Noor University of Dehagh in Iran.
Credit: Google maps - NooFoozgar _ir
Iran’s prosecutor general has reportedly ordered a criminal investigation today, Tuesday, February 28, into suspected poisoning attacks on female pupils in classrooms. According to local media reports, around 30 schools and 400 pupils have been affected, as reported by Sky News.
It is believed that the attacks are intentionally designed to prevent children from attending school classes in the country. These attacks have allegedly been happening regularly since last November. The first instance is thought to have been at an educational facility in the city of Qom, located some 125km (80 miles) southwest of Tehran.
What are believed to have been noxious fumes are said to have wafted into classrooms, resulting in some of the girls being hospitalised. The pupils at Noor Yazdanshahr Conservatory complained of being unable to move and suffered from heart palpitations and headaches.
A similar incident occurred about one month later, leading some parents to stop their children from going to school as a precaution. The affected girls described smells similar to chlorine, cleaning agents and tangerines. Further instances were experienced in schools in Tehran, and in the city of Boroujerd, as well as Qom. At least one boy’s school is said to have also been targeted.
Accusations that pupils were being affected by carbon monoxide poisoning as the result of gases given off by the gas used in the school’s heating systems were dismissed as ‘rumours’ by the authorities initially. However, in a sudden change of mind, the incidents have been taken on board at the highest level by Iran’s prosecutor general. “There are possibilities of deliberate criminal acts”, he stated.
“After several poisonings of students in Qom schools, it was found that some people wanted all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed”, said Younes Panahi, the deputy health minister, as quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency.
According to Pedram Pakaieen, a spokesperson for the health ministry, without elaborating, he suggested that a virus or microbe was not to blame for the poisoning cases.
“The existence of the devil’s will to prevent girls from education is a serious danger and it is considered very bad news”, commented Ali Reza Monadi. According to IRNA, the poisonings were described as ‘intentional’ by the official who sits on the education committee. “We have to find the roots”, he added.
Writing in Tehran’s Ettelaat newspaper, Jamileh Kadivar – a prominent former reformist lawmaker turned journalist – claimed that up to 400 pupils had been taken ill. She suggested that the attacks could be the work of ‘domestic extremists’ seeking to “replace the Islamic Republic with a caliphate or Taliban-style Islamic emirate”. Kadivar also warned that “subversive opposition” groups could be responsible.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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