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Sunday, March 12, 2023

March 12, 2023

Iran has arrested over 100 individuals in connection with the mystery poisonings that have affected thousands of schoolgirls in more than 200 schools across 25 provinces since late November. The Iranian government has charged the unidentified alleged perpetrators with possibly having links to "hostile" groups. The schoolgirls have reported experiencing symptoms such as fainting, nausea, and shortness of breath after noticing unpleasant odors on school premises, with some requiring hospital treatment. The Iranian interior ministry announced the arrests on Saturday, with state media reporting that those arrested included individuals with hostile motives and with the aim of instilling terror in the students and closing schools.

The ministry's statement pointed to the possibility of the perpetrators having links to the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), an Albania-based exiled Iranian opposition group that Tehran considers a "terrorist" organization. The Iranian government has blamed the protests that started two months after the poisonings on hostile forces abroad, which it commonly labels "riots," and claims that they are linked to the United States, Israel, and their allies. These protests began after the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an ethnic Kurd who was arrested for allegedly violating strict dress rules for women.

The latest official tally shows that over 5,000 pupils have been affected across 25 provinces. The Iranian interior ministry has reported that arrests were made in the provinces of Tehran, Qom, Gilan, Razavi Khorasan, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Zanjan, Kurdistan, Hamadan, Khuzestan, and Fars. The ministry's statement noted that the investigation into the perpetrators, including their possible connection to terrorist organizations such as the MEK and others, is ongoing.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for the perpetrators of the "unforgivable crime" to be tracked down "without mercy." The poisonings have sparked fear and anger among pupils and their parents, with many calling for the government to take swift action to ensure the safety of students. Fortunately, the number of incidents in schools has decreased significantly since the middle of the last week, and there have been no reports of sick students.

In conclusion, the Iranian government's announcement of over 100 arrests nationwide in connection with the mystery poisonings of thousands of schoolgirls has provided some reassurance to concerned parents and pupils. However, the investigation is ongoing, and it remains to be seen if those responsible will be brought to justice. The possibility of links to terrorist organizations such as the MEK highlights the complexity of the situation and the potential for further instability in the region. The Iranian government's allegations of hostile forces abroad and their involvement in the protests further underscore the political dimensions of the poisonings and their broader implications for regional security.