More than a hundred female students in several schools had to be hospitalized due to alleged gas attacks after incidents of poisoning to prevent girls from going to school. The president has ordered an inquiry into it.
According to Iranian media reports, at least 10 girls’ schools were targeted by suspected gas, including seven in the northwestern city of Erbil and three in the capital, Tehran. According to Tasnim news agency, 108 female students had to be admitted to hospital in Erbil, their condition is said to be stable. There are reports of poisoning of female students in three schools in Tehran as well.
Fars news agency quoted guardians as saying that female students were subjected to poisonous gas in a high school located in the neighborhood of Sar, Tehran. He, however, did not elaborate. According to Fars, the security forces have arrested three people. These are the first arrests after a spate of alleged poison attacks on female students’ schools.
‘Girls poisoned so they can’t go to school’
An Iranian lawmaker told parliament on Wednesday that 1,200 female students have been hospitalized since the mysterious illness of respiratory poisoning began in November. Most of these incidents took place in the religiously important city of Qom.
According to the parliament’s website, the Ministry of Health found after testing in schools in Qom, where more than 800 female students fell ill, that the water contained nitrogen particles, which are commonly used as a fertilizer.
Spokesperson of Parliament’s Health Committee, Zahra Sheikhi, said that apart from Qom, 400 female students have also been affected in Borjard city. Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Youssef Panahi said on Sunday that some people are doing this to stop the education of girls.
Panahi said, “After several female students were poisoned in schools in Qom, it has come to light that some people want schools and especially girls’ schools to be closed.”
Discontent among the people
There is a lot of anger across the country after these incidents of poisoning of female students came to light. Critics of the government say that since the number of female students criticizing the government is increasing continuously in schools, the authorities are using this tactic to silence them.
Human rights activists compare the perpetrators of such attacks on schools to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Boko Haram in the Sahel region, which oppose girls’ education.
Order of Inquiry
According to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s official website, Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi has been ordered to “continually provide information on the attacks and report the results of the investigation.” The website said Waheedi was appointed to “address the concerns of the families” of the affected students.
During a press conference, Wahidi denied a report by Fars news agency that security forces have arrested three people in connection with the suspected poisoning. “Various reports are before us and all of them are completely wrong,” he said. He also denied that the presence of a specific chemical substance was detected in the attack.
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