Shahriar Heydari, an Iranian parliamentarian, cited an anonymous “reliable source,” claiming that “almost 900 students” from all around Iran have been poisoned. On November 30, 18 girls from Qom were admitted to the hospital as a result of the poisoning.
More than 100 girls from 13 schools were brought to hospitals in Qom later on February 14. Moreover, 35 girls were hospitalized in Tehran, and more cases all around Iran continue to come forward. Fars said that many of the patients were eventually discharged from hospitals and that they were in “good” condition.
Moreover, recent reports of poisonings in schools in Borujerd, Chaharmahal, and Bakhtiari Province have been made by the state-run media. There have also been reports of several teachers being affected by the poisoning.
Muscle weakness, nausea, and fatigue were among the symptoms of the patients, according to Iranian Health Minister Bahram Einollahi, who visited the affected pupils in Qom on February 15. But the “poisoning” was rather minor, he added.
Some students reportedly experience momentary limb paralysis, according to local media. Einollahi said that his team had obtained numerous samples from patients admitted to a hospital in Qom for additional testing at Iran’s renowned Pasteur Institute, which found no viruses or bacteria in the samples.
Read More: Wave of poison attacks on schoolgirls alarms Iranians
In a joint press conference with the health and education ministers and members of the intelligence ministry, the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s education committee, Alireza Monadi Sefidan, stated that nitrogen gas had been found in the poison used at some of the schools.
For months, officials in the health ministry, governor’s offices, and schools either understated or rejected the episodes, claiming the schoolgirls had “panicked” or had only “minor” symptoms. It is not definitely known if the instances are connected or if the students were the intended targets.
Nevertheless, Younes Panahi, the deputy health minister for research and technology in Iran, claimed on February 26 that the poisonings were “chemical” in nature but were not caused by warfare-related complex chemicals and that the symptoms were not infectious. Panahi continued by saying that it seemed like the poisonings were intentional efforts to target and close down girls’ schools.
An unfortunate incident or an act of violence?
Individuals both inside and outside of Iran have grounds to believe that the Islamic regime planned and executed the poison assaults on purpose to interfere with the functioning of girls’ schools. Iran has received multiple criticisms for its violations of human rights. Since Mahsa Amini’s murder, there have been numerous demonstrations around Iran demanding an end to the moral policing of women.
The regime has harshly repressed activists and protestors, many of whom have been put to death. Iran has often referred to these demonstrations as “foreign” propaganda. Many critics have also drawn comparisons between the recent events in Iran and the incidents in 2010 and 2012 where it was reported that the Afghan Taliban deployed poisonous gas to stop girls from pursuing their studies.
The Iranian regime continues its expansive repression and methodical discrimination against women and denies them individual liberty and the freedoms of opinion, expression, and belief. While some parents of the victims are terrified to send their daughters back to school, others are outraged and even more resolute in the face of the tyrannical regulations and procedures of the regime.
If the poisoning was actually a premeditated implementation of these regulations, then it is only a small indication of the lengths that the regime will go to in order to keep and tighten its hold on the populace.