Iran, girls poisoned “to close schools”

In recent months in Qom, one of the main religious cities of Iran, center par excellence of Shiite studies, a drama has taken place involving hundreds of girls, poisoned in their schools in an “intentional way”, as admitted by the Deputy Minister of Health . The goal was to close girls’ schools. Health and government sources but also local and international media have revealed the outlines, which remain unclear at the moment, of this gruesome story, which however highlights once again the brutality of the authorities, intent on bloody repression of dissent and a gag for women.

The situation

As it happens, schools and universities are precisely the places where political opposition to the regime is formed, which the conservative authorities fear the most and which they aim to close, as if to replicate the example of neighboring Afghanistan which – under the Taliban yoke – it banned girls’ education. Since the end of November, local media have reported cases of respiratory poisoning of hundreds of girls as young as 10 in the city’s schools. According to the Irna agency, on 14 February the parents of the pupils met in front of the city governorate to “ask for explanations”, while today the Deputy Minister of Health Youness Panahi revealed that “it emerged that some individuals wanted all the schools , especially the female ones, were closed”. The poisoning – he later explained – was caused by “chemical compounds available not for military use, and is neither contagious nor transmissible”. For their part, the ministries of intelligence and education have limited themselves to saying that they are collaborating to find the source of the poisoning. At the moment, writes France Presse, no arrests have been announced. In addition to Qom, the city of Borujerd, in the center of the country, has also been the scene of similar episodes. Over the past 48 hours, reports BBC Persian, more than 90 high school students have gone to hospital with symptoms of poisoning. It is not the first time that similar cases have been mentioned in Iran. At the end of October, the case of a 21-year-old university student, Negin Abdolmaleki, who died of drinking poisoned alcohol caused a sensation. The revelations about drugged or poisoned activists in prison, punished for having participated in the protests, are also disconcerting. Meanwhile, in the last few hours, a Spanish citizen, Ana Baneira, 24, who has been detained since last November, has been released. The circumstances of the arrest have never been specified, but the period of detention coincides with the peak of protests in Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini in September.