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Iran’s Schoolgirl Poisoning Crisis Continues to Cause Panic and Fear


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Iran continues to grapple with a mysterious wave of schoolgirl poisonings that have affected more than 5,000 students in over 230 schools since November 2022. On April 8th, local media reported that dozens of schoolgirls were poisoned in several schools across the country. The majority of the affected schools have been girls’ schools, with students experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, shortness of breath, and headaches, among others. In some cases, the poisoning has led to fainting and hospitalization.

The most recent poisoning incident occurred in the town of Haftkel, in the southwestern province of Khuzestan. Sixty students were poisoned in a girls’ school. In the northwestern province of Ardabil, five schools reported incidents of poisoning, with affected students experiencing symptoms of anxiety, shortness of breath, and headaches. In the town of Urmia, the capital of West Azerbaijan province, a number of schoolgirls were taken to the hospital on April 8th after feeling sick.

A young woman lies in hospital after reports of poisoning at an unspecified location in Iran in this still image from video from March 2, 2023. Photo
A young woman lies in hospital after reports of poisoning at an unspecified location in Iran.

The cause of the poisoning incidents remains unknown, and officials have yet to provide any concrete explanations. A national fact-finding committee was formed in response to the poisonings, and its head, MP Hamidreza Kazemi, has stated that the committee’s final report will be published in two weeks. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has called for severe sentences, up to the death penalty, for those found responsible for the poisonings, which he has described as “unforgivable crimes.”

The poisoning incidents began two months after the start of a protest movement in Iran sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died in custody on September 16th, 2022, following her arrest for allegedly violating the strict dress code for women. It remains unclear if the poisonings are related to the protest movement or if they are the work of a group with a specific agenda.

The ongoing schoolgirl poisonings have caused fear and panic among parents and students across Iran. Authorities have implemented measures such as increased security at schools and regular inspections of classrooms and school grounds in an effort to prevent further incidents. However, until the cause of the poisonings is determined, it is unclear if these measures will be effective in protecting students.

Iran’s schoolgirl poisoning crisis continues to be a cause for concern, with the number of affected schools and students rising each week. While officials are working to determine the cause of the poisonings and prevent further incidents, parents and students remain anxious and fearful for their safety.

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