Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, spoke about the poisoning of female students in several schools in the country since November, which the regime had already admitted was happening.
“Authorities must take seriously the issue of student poisoning,” said the ayatollah, cited by state media. “This is an unforgivable crime. Their perpetrators must be severely punished.”
About 100 Iranian students from different educational establishments suffered “mild cases” of intoxication, with symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, tachycardia, lethargy and breathing difficulties. Regime officials only in recent weeks have acknowledged what was happening and have given no indication of what they thought was happening – who was responsible or what chemicals were used.
Some politicians have suggested, however, that this could be an action by religious groups that are opposed to girls studying.
The first of these cases was reported in November in the holy city of Qom, in the center of the country, and since then there have been cases in more than 50 schools in 25 of the country’s 31 provinces, prompting some parents to withdraw their daughters from school and protest against the regime. There was a similar attack at a boys’ school, says the British daily The Guardian.
This Monday, Iranian media reported that authorities detained Ali Pourtabatabaei, a journalist from Qom who had regularly reported on the suspected cases.
The Minister of the Interior, Ahmad Vahidi, said over the weekend that “suspicious samples” had been collected as part of an investigation. Vahidi did not accuse anyone in particular, pointing the finger only at “enemies” with the aim of destabilizing the country.
The regime has been the target of protests since September, when the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old, following his arrest by the “morality police” for not using the language correctly. hijab (Islamic scarf) led to an unprecedented and brutally suppressed protest, with violence against demonstrators and several death sentences, and executions, of participants in the protests.