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Source: Iranintl

Mar 5, 2023

Author: Iran International Newsroom

About 80 more schools were targeted by chemical attacks on Sunday with dozens of girls hospitalized, as the international community demands answers to the mysterious poisonings.

The poisonings, targeting girls' schools since November, have been ramped up this week with hundreds more girls falling sick across Iran.

Social media videos surfaced on Sunday show that students were poisoned in many cities, including Fouladshahr and some other cities in Esfahan (Isfahan) province, Karaj and Fardis in Alborz province, Tabriz, Yazd, Hamedan, Shiraz, Ramhormoz and Mahshahr in Khuzestan province, Qazvin, Gonbad-e Kavus in Golestan, and the capital Tehran.

Only In the city of Yazd, at least eight schools were attacked on Sunday.On Saturday alone, schools in 33 cities were targeted by the same gas that has already affected around 1,500 students in recent weeks.

The scale of the intentional poisoning of female students -- which started in the religious city of Qom and spread further throughout the country and reached schools in small towns and villages -- has stepped up in recent weeks, becoming a daily occurrence.

State media is trying to downplay the seriousness of the incidents, with some officials such as former MP Jamileh Kadivar calling the attacks “mass hysteria.”

Many, such as Dr. Mohammadreza Hashemian, a doctor in the special care department of Masih Daneshvari Hospital, fear the poisonings are being led by regime authorities. He said that the gases used to poison the students are a combination of different chemicals, which it is "not possible for ordinary people" to access.

With women and girls having been at the forefront of protests, burning headscarves and cutting their hair in defiance of the regime, it is believed that the attacks are a coordinated effort to deter the young students from supporting ongoing unrest, triggered by the death of the young woman, Mahsa Amini. Her death in morality police custody after being arrested for the inappropriate use of her headscarf, has triggered national protest since September.

The patterns of the school attacks are similar to chemical attacks committed by radical Islamists in Chechnya and the Taliban in Afghanistan.The regime’s Health Minister Bahram Eynollahi admitted that the girls have suffered "mild poison" attacks, while Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on Saturday, "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."

Outraged by the Islamic Republic’s inaction and reluctance to identify and arrest those behind the attacks, many parents, students and other activists have held demonstrations outside the buildings of the Education Ministry across the country, but security forces attacked the gatherings and arrested some of the parents and students.

In a gathering of parents outside an Education Ministry building in Tehran, people chanted "Basij, Guards, you are our Daesh," likening the Revolutionary Guards and other security forces to the Islamic State group. Comparing the Islamic Republic with the Taliban, protesters also chanted "Death to the Taliban, whether in Iran or Afghanistan".

Also on Sunday, a group of about 420 Iranian political and civil activists issued a statement to media, describing the poisoning of students as a "criminal act" that has caused "national concern".On Friday, the United Nations human rights office in Geneva called for a transparent investigation into the attacks.

Countries including the US and Germany have also voiced concern.Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi says there is no doubt about the role of the regime in the mass poisoning attacks. Iran's exiled queen Farah Pahlavi also condemned the attacks, saying the Islamic Republic is showing parts of "its impure nature to the world." Exiled prince Reza Pahlavi also tweeted, “Iranian girls are being poisoned at schools across Iran.

I urge the international community to bring pressure on the regime and demand access for investigations on-the-ground in Iran. Khamenei and his regime must be stopped.”

Canada-based activist Hamed Esmaeilion, whose daughter and wife were killed by the IRGC, also decried the school attacks, calling on the international community and democratic governments not to remain silent. “Will you finally stand with the people of Iran and expel the Islamic Republic Ambassadors?” he asked.

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