US ‘deeply concerned’ over poisoning attacks against schoolgirls in Iran

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The US expressed deep concern on Thursday over reports of hundreds of Iranian schoolgirls being targeted in a wave of poisoning attacks and called on Iran to investigate the incidents.

In the past three months, hundreds of cases of respiratory distress have been reported among schoolgirls, and one government official said the poisonings could be an attempt to force the closure of girls’ schools in the country.

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“It’s deeply concerning news coming out of Iran,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said.

“Truth is, we don’t know right now what caused those ailments. We see reports that the Iranian government is investigating it, that’s the right course of action,” he added.

“We want those investigations to be thorough and complete, and we want them to be transparent. Little girls going to school should only have to worry about learning. They shouldn’t have to worry about their own physical safety, but we just don’t know enough right now.”

Kirby’s comments received some criticism on social media, with some highlighting the general lack of transparency in the regime.

“How can the Biden administration expect Iran’s regime to conduct a ‘transparent’ investigation into the chemical attacks? How did the Mahsa Amini ‘investigation’ pan out?” Jason Brodsky, policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), wrote on Twitter, referring to the 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman whose death in police custody in September triggered months of anti-regime protests.

“Lies. The system is based on opacity, corruption, gaslighting, and coverups,” added Brodsky.

On Thursday, state media reported that 21 female university students were taken to hospital after they were poisoned in their dormitory in the city of Karaj, west of the capital Tehran.

On Wednesday, at least 10 girls’ schools were targeted with poisoning attacks, seven in the northwestern city of Ardabil and three in the capital, according to state media.

Deputy health minister Younes Panahi said last week that the poisonings were aimed at shutting down education for girls.

Some Iranians, including prominent activists, have accused the regime of being responsible for the attacks. They believe that the poisonings, which come more than five months after protests that spread across Iran following Amini’s death, are deliberate and a form of “revenge” against schoolgirls for participating in the protests.

Amini died on September 16 after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaching the country’s strict dress rules for women. Her death triggered months of protests that quickly escalated into calls for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Schoolgirls across Iran joined the protests, with many videos on social media showing them taking off headscarves and chanting anti-government slogans, including on school premises.

With AFP

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