/ IHRights#Iran: Hossein Amaninejad and Hamed Yavari were executed in Hamedan Central Prison on 11 June. Hossein was arrested… https://t.co/3lnMTwFH6z13 Jun

Chemical Attacks on Schools: Iran Human Rights Reiterates the Need for International Investigation

8 Mar 23
Chemical Attacks on Schools: Iran Human Rights Reiterates the Need for International Investigation

Iran Human Rights (IHRNGO); March 8, 2023: The chemical terrorist attacks on schools have intensified in recent days. Islamic Republic officials have spoken of 230 schools, while according to unofficial reports, more than 220 schools were attacked between March 4 and 5.

After three months of inaction and a series of contradictory actions including denial, purposeful silence and victim blaming, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei spoke about the issue on March 6 after teachers called for national protests. He stated that some people are “definitely” involved and promised “maximum sentences for the perpetrators.” The next day, Deputy Interior Minister, Majid Mirahmadi mentioned the arrest of “some people” in five provinces. President Raisi had previously called the poisonings an “enemy conspiracy.”

Emphasising that the state security institutions themselves are under suspicion for the attacks, Iran Human Rights considers any official results obtained through opaque investigations to be invalid and reiterates the need for an independent international investigation. The authorities’ next steps could include arrests and self-incriminating torture-tainted forced confessions and death sentences against protesters.

Director, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said: “The evidence so far strengthens suspicions of direct or indirect state involvement in the chemical attacks against schools. The responsibility for the attacks, possible deaths and long-term effects, rest with Khamenei and the forces under his command unless an international investigation proves otherwise.”

In the last three months, there have been a series of chemical attacks on girls schools in cities across Iran which have also recently extended to boys’ schools. On March 6, Mohammad Hassan Asafari, an MP and member of the fact-finding mission tasked with investigating the poisonings told ISNA: “The statistics presented yesterday include 25 provinces (out of 31) in around 230 schools, where more than 5000 boy and girl pupils were poisoned, the highest number of poisonings was related to girls and the least, to boys.”

“Various tests are being conducted to identify the type of poisoning in order to determine the cause; so far, no specific information has been obtained, which we can use to determine the type of poison or the location from which they were carried out,” he added.

In contradictory statements, officials claimed they had arrested a number of the perpetrators of the attacks on March 7. Majid Mirahmadi, stated: According to our investigation and intelligence, a number of people were identified and arrested in five provinces, and investigations have begun and will be announced as soon as clear conclusions have been established.”

The first case of pupils being poisoned was reported on November 30, at Noor Girls' School in Qom's Yazdanshahr neighbourhood. At least 18 children were poisoned in the attack.

According to Shargh newspaper, more than 25 schools in 15 provinces were attacked with chemicals on March 4. In response, parents, teachers and university students staged protests in Tehran, Shiraz, Sanandaj, Mashhad, Karaj, Tabriz, Babol, Ardabil, Mahabad, Yazd and Rasht on March 6 and 7. According to videos shared on social media, protests in Sanandaj, Babol, Neishabur and Tehran were brutally crushed by security forces.

The Coordinatiing Council of Iranian Teachers Unions reported the arrest of six teachers at the protest outside the Office of the Education Directorate in Sanandaj on March 7. As well the six board members being arrested, two teachers were also shot with pellet bullets.

Ahmad Vahidi, the Interior Minister who is himself a suspect in an international terrorism case, is one of the officials tasked with investigating the attacks. He previously stated that the forces under his command have no leads in the case!

Statements and action by Islamic Republic officials demonstrate the lack of serious will to investigate the attacks. Assertive international action is therefore essential in keeping girls at school.