Arrests were made in five provinces on the basis of “findings by the secret services,” Deputy Interior Minister Majid Mirahmadi said on state television on Tuesday. He did not provide any information on the identity of those arrested, the circumstances of their arrest and their alleged role in the poisoning.
Mass poisonings at girls’ schools in Iran have been reported again and again for the past three months. The authorities suspect an attempt to exclude girls from schooling. The background is so far unclear.
Meanwhile, teachers in several cities in Iran took to the streets in response to the recent wave of poisoning. Videos on social media showed protests in several Iranian provinces. At the meetings, relatives also accused the authorities of not taking sufficient action against the poisoning at the girls’ schools. Pictures and videos showed protests in the megacities of Tabriz and Mashhad, in Isfahan, Shiraz, on the Caspian Sea and in the Kurdish regions.
Iran’s supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered a “severe punishment” for the poisoning on Monday. Also on Monday, Iran’s judiciary chief Mohseni Ejei announced that people arrested in connection with the poisonings should be tried in court for “corruption on earth”, which would carry the death penalty.
According to the reform-leaning newspaper Etemad, dozens of schoolgirls in the eastern city of Kuchan were again hospitalized on Monday after inhaling “unpleasant odors”. More than 700 similar cases had been reported in the southwestern province of Khuzestan on Sunday.
According to a parliamentary inquiry into the wave of poisoning, more than 5,000 schoolgirls in 25 of the country’s 31 provinces have been poisoned since the end of November.