Protests intensify in Iran over the poisoning of thousands of school girls

(Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN Deven Berryhill
UPDATED 1:00 PM PT – Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Protests erupted across Iran after reports of more than a thousand school girls being mysteriously poisoned since November were released.

On Tuesday, many Iranian news agencies reported that hundreds of parents, teachers, and ordinary citizens have gone to the streets of Tehran protesting the Iranian government’s lack of action against the perpetrators. Iran’s state news agency has reported that hundreds of cases of respiratory illnesses have been detected among Iranian schoolgirls in 21 out of the 31 Iranian provinces.

It has been reported that some protesters blame Tehran’s enemies for the poisonings. Others blasted Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the government’s inability to contain the growing crisis.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader made a public appearance condemning the actions calling the poisonings an “unforgivable crime.” 

“Those behind the poisoning should face ‘severe punishment,” said Khamenei. “[This is a] serious and unforgivable crime and there will be no amnesty for the perpetrators”.

Some critics have suggested that the mysterious incidents may have been deliberate efforts by hard-line groups inside Iran operating as self-declared guardians of Islam. Others have said that this may have been a deliberate effort by extremists to prevent girls from seeking an education.

“Today at noon, a number of students were poisoned at the Khayyam girls’ school in the city of Pardis, Tehran province,” said the Tasnim news agency of Iran.

The White House has called for an independent investigation from The U.N.’s Fact-Finding Mission On Iran to determine who is responsible for the poisonings.

Iran’s interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said that investigators had found “suspicious samples” in surrounding schools.

“In field studies, suspicious samples have been found, which are being investigated… to identify the causes of the students’ illness, and the results will be published as soon as possible,” said the minister in a statement carried by the official news agency IRNA.

According to a statement made by the Center For Human Rights In Iran, 20 Iranian lawyers inside and outside of Iran have called on the United Nations to investigate the school illnesses.

“Due to the Iranian government’s incompetence—or unwillingness—to stop poison gas attacks against schoolgirls in Iran, international support is urgently needed to protect Iranian children and their right to education,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).