Iran’s president blames foreign enemies for schoolgirl poisonings | News

Raisi did not say who the enemies were, although Tehran usually accuses the US and Israel of acting against them.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has blamed a wave of poisonings of hundreds of schoolgirls around the country on Tehran’s enemies.

The so-far unexplained poison attacks on more than 30 schools in at least four cities began in November in Iran’s Shiite holy city of Qom, prompting some parents to pull their children out of school.

Iran’s health minister said on Tuesday that hundreds of girls at various schools have been affected, and some politicians have suggested they may have been targeted by religious groups opposed to girls’ education.

Raisi, who on Friday addressed a crowd in southern Iran in a speech broadcast live on state television, blamed Iran’s enemies for the poisoning.

“This is a security project to create chaos in the country where the enemy is trying to create fear and insecurity among parents and students,” he said.

He did not say who those enemies were, although Iranian leaders usually accuse the United States and Israel, among others, of acting against it.

Separately, a senior Iranian official said a fuel tanker found next to a school in a Tehran suburb, and also discovered in two other cities, was likely involved in the poisonings.

Authorities seized the tanker and arrested the driver, said Reza Karimi Saleh, the deputy governor of Pardis suburb.

Saleh is the first official to report an arrest in connection with the poisoning wave.

He said the same tanker had also been in Qom and Borujerd, in Lorestan province in western Iran, where students have also suffered from poisoning. He did not elaborate.

“Guards at a parking lot where the fuel tanker was parked also suffered from poisoning,” Saleh said, referring to the Pardis website.

Calls for investigation

In Geneva, the UN human rights office on Friday called for an open investigation into the attacks.

“We are very concerned about these allegations that girls are being deliberately targeted in what appear to be mysterious circumstances,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a briefing.

She said the findings of a government investigation should be made public and the perpetrators brought to justice.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock joined international talks that the reports were shocking and must be fully investigated.

“Girls must be able to go to school without fear,” Baerbock said on Twitter. ‚ÄúThis is nothing less than their human rights. All cases must be fully investigated.”

The US State Department spokesperson had on Wednesday asked Iran to investigate the cases of poisoning in schools.

Some Iranian politicians have suggested that the schoolgirls may have been targeted by religious groups opposed to girls’ education.

Social media posts are full of pictures and videos of hospitalized girls. Some said they were nauseous and had palpitations. Others complained of headaches or heart palpitations. The posts could not be verified.

Schoolgirls have also taken part in the protests against the authorities that were sparked by the death in custody of an Iranian-Kurdish woman last September. They have removed their mandatory hijabs in classrooms, torn up pictures of Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei and called for his death.

In an online video last year, schoolgirls wave their headscarves in the air and heckle a member of Iran’s paramilitary Basij force.

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