Supreme Leader for first time on suspected poisonings
This grab taken from a UGC video on the ESN platform on March 4, shows families protesting outside an education ministry building in Tehran, following the poisoning attacks on students. Pic/AFP
Iran’s supreme leader said on Monday that if a series of suspected poisonings at girls’ schools is proven to be deliberate, the culprits should be sentenced to death for committing an “unforgivable crime”. It was the first time Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all matters of state, has spoken publicly about the suspected poisonings, which began late last year and have sickened hundreds of children.
Iranian officials only acknowledged them in recent weeks and have provided no details on who may be behind the attacks or what chemicals — if any — have been used. Iran has no history of religious extremists targeting women’s education. “If the poisoning of students is proven, those behind this crime should be sentenced to capital punishment and there will be no amnesty for them,” Khamenei said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
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Authorities have acknowledged suspected attacks at more than 50 schools across 21 of Iran’s 30 provinces since November. Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi called on the public to remain calm and accused unnamed enemies of inciting fear to undermine the Islamic Republic. Vahidi said at least 52 schools had been affected, while Iranian media reports have put the number of schools at over 60. At least one boys’ school reportedly has been affected.
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