The recent chemical attacks in dozens of all-female schools across Iran have made headlines. The videos showing schoolgirls hardly breathing are indeed heart-wrenching. While officials try to downplay this crime, all strings lead to a systematic and organized state crime.
The chain poisoning of schoolgirls began almost three months ago. But the chemical attacks leading to this tragedy ramped up in the first week of March, with hundreds of girls falling sick.
“Until yesterday, 25 provinces with approximately 230 schools have been involved, as a result of which more than 5,000 male and female students were poisoned,” the state-run ISNA News Agency quoted MP Mohammad Hossein Asfari on March 6.
From blaming imaginary adversaries and human error to making contradictory remarks and speaking of “mass hysteria,” regime officials have tried to twist the truth and neglect their role or at least dodge responsibility for the increasing and organized chemical attacks.
The regime’s health minister, Bahram Einollahi, considered the poisoning as a “minor incident without any microbial origins.” Tehran’s pundits and state-affiliated speak of “mass hysteria,” but what is the reality?
“Look, we can attribute this incident to mass hysteria when the real reason for poisoning is not confirmed. Currently, all official instances have confirmed this fact. Therefore, we should not take other possibilities into consideration at all,” the state-run Mardom Salari daily quoted Dr. Amin Sadri on March 6.
The question circulating in Iran’s state media is why the self-proclaimed regional power cannot find and arrest those behind these attacks.
“The security systems claim they can capture terrorists out of thin air and arrest criminals before they are even to commit the crime. But when it comes to issues like acid attacks on women and girls in Isfahan or poisoning of students, which has been going on for 100 days, there is no trace of the security forces,” wrote the state-run Baharnews website on February 28.
“The main issue is why the government has so far failed to prevent a comprehensive and satisfying report. Seemingly, there are some parties who benefit from this incident,” the state-run Etemad daily wrote on March 7.
So, it is safe to say that Iran’s authorities deliberately neglect their duties. The regime’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, blamed mass hysteria and dismissed the case as the “enemies’ propaganda.” His mentor, the mullahs’ supreme leader Ali Khamenei, referred to the mass poisoning as a “crime” but as the regime’s highest authority, only made several general recommendations.
Much like the coronavirus pandemic, Khamenei blatantly said that the state media should not make a fuss about the chain poisoning of girls and addressed the country’s most important social issue after 100 days and on the sidelines of the national labor day on March 6, the same date he called the covid-19 pandemic a “test” and “blessing in 2020.
These contradictory remarks and actions, trying to downplay the crisis, further prove the regime’s involvement in the tragedy.
In this regard, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), stated on March 7 that “the regime is trying to downplay the heinous crime of poisoning school students out of fear of backlash. Contrary to the regime’s lies, the toxic gases used in schools are not accessible to the public.”
We express our sympathies to the parents of the students affected by the chain poisoning of schoolgirls in various cities of Iran, and we salute their resistance and protest against this criminal regime. #IWD2023 #WomenForce4Changehttps://t.co/wl4WF1nx65 pic.twitter.com/7FD4xH31OT
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) March 4, 2023
Protests have erupted in dozens of Iranian cities in recent days. Students of the all-female Allameh University held a protest on March 7, chanting the slogan “freedom, freedom, freedom.” Parents, teachers, and students across Iran have been holding demonstrations. Instead of addressing their concern, regime security forces attacked protesters in several cities, and a video shows the anti-riot forces beating a protesting mother.
“It seems that other goals, such as spreading fear in society, are behind these actions because we witnessed how security forces brutalized a mother in public who was protesting her girl’s right to wellbeing and health,” the state-run Setar-e Sobh wrote on March 6.
The chain of chemical attacks has happened in at least 250 schools in 25 provinces across Iran. While the substances used in these attacks cannot be easily acquired by individuals and even a group in a country with a strict surveillance system and a large oppressive apparatus, the extent of these attacks rejects any foreign involvement.
“It is not possible for ordinary people to access the gases with which the students were poisoned. In these incidents, mixed gases are used for poisoning and are being used very intelligently,” the state-run Roydad 24 website quoted Dr. Mohammadreza Hashemian, a doctor in the special care department of Masih Daneshvari Hospital, on March 4.
“Access to these gases is not possible for ordinary people. Although some gases are used for anesthesia or laparoscopy, they are not generally available,” he added.
After failing to completely quash the rebellious spirit of Iranian women, particularly young and teenage girls, the misogynous regime is now unleashing its wrath on youth. Dozens of teenagers were killed by the security forces during the nationwide uprising in 2022-2023. Iranian girls have been playing a leading role in protests. Thus, Khamenei and his regime desperately needed something to spread fear among them.
The nationwide uprising in November 2019 rattled the regime’s foundation. Seeing his regime’s demise on the horizon, Khamenei welcomed the coronavirus, calling it a “blessing.” The regime then began a systematic denial and inaction, resulting in at least half a million dead. The Iranian society rose from the ashes of the deadly pandemic in September 2022. Ever since, many spectators speak of a revolution in the making in Iran, with women and girls at its forefront.
Like a drowning man clinging to anything at reach, the misogynous regime would not shy away from any crime to prolong its life. But, this time, it is doomed to fail. The recent protests against the chemical attacks across Iran, with people blaming the entire system and chanting slogans against Khamenei, have already undercut the regime’s strategy. It seems Tehran has sowed the wind and will reap the whirlwind.