Some of the schoolgirls hospitalized with symptoms of gas poisoning (April 2023)

Some of the schoolgirls hospitalized with symptoms of gas poisoning

Lawyers, Filmmakers Call Chemical Attacks On Schoolgirls Crime Against Humanity

Thursday, 04/13/2023

A group of influential Iranians have urged international bodies to probe chemical attacks on schoolgirls, describing them as a "crime against humanity."

In a statement published Thursday, well-known lawyers and filmmakers said that the attacks since November had affected about 13,000 Iranian schoolgirls by March 21, adding that human rights activists should raise awareness about the issue so that international judicial institutions put it on their agenda. 

Prominent lawyers Ramezan Hajimashhadi, Giti Pourfazel, Saeed Dehghan, Mehrangiz Kar and Nasrin Sotoudeh as well as award-winning director Jafar Panahi and actress Katayoun Riahi were among the signatories of the statement. 

Pointing out that while government security forces were efficient in identifying and arresting protesters, they have shown negligence in pursuing the perpetrators of the chemical attacks, which indicates that they are in line with the regime’s agenda. 

Attacking schools is "a kind of threat and revenge against young girls and teenagers who have been striving to end the compulsory hijab through the 'Women, Life, Freedom’ movement.”

Close to 300 schools were targeted in the past Iranian year ending on March 20 without any apparent effort by the government to seriously pursue the perpetrators or explain to terrified parents and students what was happening in so many schools.

Thousands of students have been affected, mostly girls, with hundreds more hospitalized with symptoms including respiratory distress, numbness in their limbs, heart palpitations, headaches, nausea, and vomiting.

While there was lull in attacks as schools closed for the Nowruz holidays, fresh incidents took place this week as students returned to classrooms.

Karo Pashabadi, a Kurdish boy from the Iranian city of Kamyaran who died about a month after a chemical attack on a school in Tehran

The signatories also referred to the death of a Kurdish teenager who was hospitalized following one such attack, saying that despite the continuation of these chemical attacks, international institutions have not yet taken effective and deterrent actions. 

Amid intensified measures to enforce hijab laws, Iran's regime is facing fresh protests over a renewed wave of chemical attacks on schoolgirls and economic woes.

The attacks coincided with the funeral of a Kurdish child from the city of Kamyaran who was laid to rest in Pashavah village in Kordestan province. The 16-year-old boy, Karo Pashabadi, had been taken to hospital for treatment on March 15 after inhaling poisonous gas after a chemical attack on a school in Tehran, where he was living. At least one other child, 11-year-old Fatemeh Razaei, has died in the attacks which began on November 30 and have taken place in hundreds of schools nationwide.

Ordinary Iranians have been suspicious of the involvement of the regime itself, or religious extremists protected by the regime, calling the attacks “state terrorism,” although the regime has denied responsibility and even staged arrests of suspects after widespread protests. Popular belief is that such large-scale and coordinated attacks cannot happen without the green light of regime authorities.

Moineddin Saeedi, a member of the Iranian Parliament from Chabahar in Sistan-Baluchistan Province, criticized a police move to use traffic cameras to identify women removing hijab. He said, "If these cameras can detect crimes to such an extent, why are we currently facing the poisoning of girls?"

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