Iranwire – Hundreds of Iranian schoolgirls were taken to hospitals with poisoning symptoms on March 5, as poisoning incidents were reported in more than 80 schools across the country.
Over the past three months, thousands of school students, mostly girls, were affected by a wave of illnesses, with symptoms including nausea, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulties, and heart palpitations.
Some Iranians have suggested that the poisonings could be an attempt to force the closure of girls’ schools or a retaliation for students and women leading ongoing nationwide protests sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, in the custody of morality police.
On March 5, the vice president of Ahvaz University of Medical Sciences reported that 700 female students were poisoned in the southern province of Khuzestan alone. Five hundred were briefly treated in hospital, while 200 remained hospitalized.
According to videos shared on social media, schools in the cities of Ahvaz, Ramhormoz, Mahshahr, Omidiyeh, Sarbandar, and Abadan were among those targeted by the attacks.
🎥 گزارشها حاکی از آن است که امروز یکشنبه ۱۴اسفند برای دومین روز متوالی دانشآموزان دختر مدرسه زینب در شهرستان #رامهرمز با علایم مسمومیت به بیمارستان منتقل شدهاند.
#شهروندخبرنگار #مسمومیت #مهسا_امینی pic.twitter.com/EfMV5d2I22— ایران وایر (@iranwire) March 5, 2023
Hospitals in these cities, particularly Ramhormoz, were reportedly struggling to cope with the influx of patients.
Poisonings were also reported in schools in the provinces of Tehran, Lorestan, Khorasan, Fars, Isfahan, Alborz, Markazi, Ardabil, Golestan, Yazd, Hamedan, West Azerbaijan, and East Azerbaijan.
While Iranian political figures and activists have described the wave of poisonings as “chemical” and “biological” attacks, officials have only recently admitted there may be a problem.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on March 6 that poisoning of schoolgirls is an “unforgivable crime” and that the perpetrators “should be severely punished.”
Last week, President Ebrahim Raisi said the Interior Ministry should probe the incidents, with help from the health and intelligence ministries, and quickly release the results to the public.
So far, no arrest has been announced in relation to the poisonings, which have sparked outrage among the families of the affected students.
At a rally in the northern city of Gilan on March 5, protesters chanted slogans including “Children’s safety must be provided” and ” Incompetent official, resignation, resignation.”