Suspected poisoning at Iranian girls’ school leaves dozens in hospital

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Dozens of students in Iran were hospitalized for suspected poisoning this week, the latest development in a series of cases that appear to be targeting girls’ schools across the country. country

Emergency services in Pardis, on the outskirts of Tehran, moved 37 schoolgirls for treatment on Tuesday, a school official told Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency. He said the students were suffering from “mild poisoning” and said all the girls are expected to recover.

Separately on the same day, the Human Rights Activists News Agency is run by an activist reported that several other female students fell ill in the city of Qom, south of the capital, where many of the suspected poisonings occurred.

Such incidents have been reported in 10 to 15 cities across Iran in recent months, Abdulali Rahimi Mozafari, a member of Iran’s parliament, said on Tuesday, according to the Entekhab news website. The number of students affected across the country is unclear, but Zahra Sheikhi, a spokeswoman for Iran’s Health Commission, said on Wednesday that 800 students had suffered “mild poisoning” in Qom alone in the months ago, said the reformist newspaper Shargh.

Although some boys also appear to have fallen ill, Iranian media reports that the majority of cases have been in girls’ schools. No deaths were reported.

Iran’s health minister, Bahram Einollahi, visited Qom on Tuesday, saying the poisoning was “very mild” and that the students’ symptoms included muscle weakness, lethargy and nausea, the Iranian Students News Agency reported. According to the Associated Press, some of the children mentioned the smell of tangerines, chlorine or cleaning agents. Sheikhi, the Health Commission spokesperson, said it was likely that the poison had been imported.

The cause of the poisoning is still unknown. Last week, Iran’s Attorney General, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, ordered an investigation and said the number of poisonings “shows the possibility of deliberate criminal acts.”

On Sunday, Iranian news outlets quoted Younes Panahi, the deputy health minister, as saying that schools were being deliberately targeted. He told journalists that the culprits “wanted all schools, especially girls’ schools, to be closed,” according to Iran’s Ettelaat newspaper. He denied​​​​ to comment, saying that he could not confirm whether the poisonings were intentional or why they happened.

Alireza Monadi, another member of Iran’s parliament who serves on the education committee, also said on Sunday, without giving evidence, that there was “bad will and thought” behind the alleged attacks. to prevent the children of this land, especially girls, from education is a serious threat and is considered very bad news.”

Although education in Iran is only compulsory for children aged 6 to 11, the Iranian government has a strong focus on education, with female students making up more than 50 percent of Iran’s university student body, according to the World Bank. Tehran has pressured the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan to reverse its ban on girls’ education.

Students in Iran are in danger of going all out against the government

The families of the affected students in Qom, an important site of Shiite Muslim shrines and scholarship, recently staged a protest calling on authorities to stop the series of poisonings, the Hamshahri newspaper reported. is run by the state.

The country has already been gripped by months of protests stemming from the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing a hijab in public. While the demonstrations began over women’s clothing, they turned into rallies against the country’s democratic state and crossed age, gender, ethnicity and class lines. It is unclear at this stage if the suspected poisons are linked to these complaints.

Students have played a central role in the protests, and more than 700 of them have been arrested, according to the Committee of Volunteers to Monitor the Condition of Detainees.

Authorities have launched a brutal response, HRANA, the activist news agency, reports that at least 530 demonstrators have been killed since the unrest began in mid-September. At least four protesters have been executed, and others have been sentenced to death.

Videos show evidence that they are increasingly louder than Iran’s protests

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