Iran has arrested and questioned more than 100 people for poisoning many schoolgirls in various cities. The Ministry of the Interior informed the state news agency IRNA.
The detainees come from eleven provinces, including Tehran and Qom. Especially in the latter, many poisonings would have occurred. The number of poisonings has decreased in recent days, according to the ministry.
Among the arrested suspects, according to the ministry, are individuals who had “hostile motives”. “They tried to instill fear in people and students, to cause schools to close and to create pessimism” around the Iranian leadership, IRNA writes based on the statement.
‘Also people who did mischief’
The ministry is investigating whether there is a connection between that group of detainees and terrorist organisations. According to the Ministry of the Interior, initial investigation results indicated that the suspects also included people who had committed “mischief” and used “harmless and smelly substances” to evacuate classrooms. They have been warned and will be monitored during the investigation.
According to the authorities, students from fifty schools have fallen ill since November. Iranian media mention higher numbers: more than 2,400 girls are said to have been poisoned in more than 100 schools across the country.
They would have become ill from a gas that was spread through the air ventilation system. The girls would have experienced complaints such as nausea, dizziness and breathing problems.
This girl is one of the victims:
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said this week that the perpetrators should face the death penalty if the poisonings are found to have been deliberate. That would be an “unforgivable crime,” he said.
Activists believe the government is responsible for the poisonings. They would be a way to suppress the protest movement. Young women and girls were the driving force behind the protests that began last September after the death of Mahsa Amini.
It is also quite possible that fundamentalists operate on their own and feel supported by the government, thinks Iran expert Ladan Rahbari of the University of Amsterdam.
The United Nations and the United States have called on Iranian authorities to fully investigate the poisonings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
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