Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Leader of Iran: Those who poisoned schoolgirls should be put to death

Iran leader: Those who poisoned schoolgirls deserve death

 DUBAI: The supreme leader of Iran stated on Monday that the perpetrators should be executed for an "unforgivable crime" if a series of suspected poisonings at girls' schools are found to have been planned.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader who has final say over all state matters, spoke publicly for the first time about the suspected poisonings, which started late last year and have sickened hundreds of children.

They have only been acknowledged by Iranian officials in recent weeks, and they haven't said anything about who might be behind the attacks or what chemicals, if any, were used. Iran has never had religious extremists target women's education, unlike neighboring Afghanistan.

According to the state-run IRNA news agency, Khamenei stated, "If the poisoning of students is proven, those responsible should be sentenced to death and there will be no amnesty for them."

Since November, suspicions of attacks at over 50 schools in 21 of Iran's 30 provinces have been confirmed by authorities.

Over the weekend, Iran's interior minister Ahmad Vahidi said that investigators had collected "suspicious samples," but he didn't go into detail. He appealed to the general public to maintain their composure and made the anonymous accusation that adversaries were creating fear in order to undermine the Islamic Republic.

According to Vahidi, suspected poisonings had affected at least 52 schools, while Iranian media reports have listed more than 60 schools. According to reports, one boy's school has been affected.

Recordings of upset guardians and school children in clinic trauma centers with IVs in their arms have overwhelmed online entertainment.

Since the nationwide protests began in September, Iran has placed severe restrictions on independent media, making it difficult to ascertain the nature and scope of the suspected poisonings.

Iranian media reported on Monday that a Qom-based journalist named Ali Pourtabatabaei had been detained by authorities for reporting on the suspected poisonings on a regular basis. In an editorial, the hard-line Kayhan newspaper demanded the detention of newspaper editors who published articles about the crisis that were critical of Iran's theocracy.

In the meantime, Iran is under increasing international pressure due to the alleged poisonings. Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary for the White House, demanded a "credible, independent investigation" into the occurrences.

She stated on Monday, "It is well within the mandate of the UN independent international fact-finding mission on Iran to investigate if these poisonings are related to participation in protests."

The death of a young woman who had been detained by morality police for allegedly violating the country's strict dress code sparked the protests in September. Iran's religious extremists have been known to attack women who they believe are inappropriately dressed in public. However, girls and women continued to attend schools and universities even during the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.

The children who were poisoned are said to have complained of headaches, heart palpitations, feeling lethargic, or being unable to move in any other way. Tangerines, chlorine, or cleaning products were some of the smells mentioned by some.

Since November, at least 400 schoolchildren have reportedly become ill, according to reports. In his statement, the interior minister Vahidi stated that two girls are still in the hospital due to chronic conditions. No fatalities have been reported.

On Sunday, as additional attacks were reported, videos were shared on social media of children expressing discomfort in their legs, abdomen, and dizziness. These have primarily been referred to as "hysteric reactions" by state media.

From 2009 to 2012, when hundreds of Afghan girls across the country complained of strange smells and poisoning, the World Health Organization documented a similar phenomenon. The WHO stated that it appeared to be "mass psychogenic illnesses" and that there was no evidence to back up the suspicions.

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