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Iran: Forced Televised Confessions of Young Protestor and Father over Iran’s Schoolchildren Poisonings

It has been six months since the start of mass poisonings of students, and the Iranian government has only made a handful of dubious arrests, the most recent, including multiple minors in the city of Lar.

Apr 30, 2023

According to Mohammad Hassan Asefari, a member of the parliamentary fact-finding committee for the cause of school poisonings, 5000 students have been poisoned in 230 schools in 25 provinces of the country as of March 15.
Despite multitudes of arrests by the government over the past six months in relation to the mass poisonings of schoolchildren, the poisonings have continued. The validity of the government’s arrests have been questioned, especially in the most recent cases of three schoolgirls, two of whom are under the age of 18.
Fars Police Commander Saeed Montazer-Al Mansouri alleged that the three schoolgirls poisoned students and filmed them as they got sick with the intention of sending footage to government-opposing media such as Iran International. According to a source interviewed by IranWire, schools in Lar, the hometown of the three schoolgirls, was subject to poisoning and on the same day, security agents in the hospital confiscated the phones of some students, including the three detained schoolgirls, so that they would not be able to film any videos. A few hours later, the three schoolgirls and the father of one of them were arrested in their homes.
Previous arrests related to school poisonings include the detention of five people charged with throwing nitrogen gas into schools and poisoning 53 children. The claim of the usage of Nitrogen gas has been scrutinized by experts. While Nitrogen is an odorless gas, schoolchildren reported smelling “chlorine,” “rotten tangerine,” and “spearmint” in the air before falling ill. Furthermore, the poisonings have been likened to the Taliban poisonings of Afghan schoolgirls that occurred for years due to similar symptoms between students. According to the New York Times,Taliban poisonings used organophosphorus compounds, not Nitrogen gas.
One of the three recently arrested schoolgirls is 17 year old Setayesh Amiri, who was also previously arrested for participating in December protests. Setayesh, alongside her father, were introduced by state media as the main perpetrators of the school poisonings.
The forced false confessions of Setayesh and her father were televised on local Lar news on March 9. As their backs are turned to the camera, they describe setting nitrogen gas capsules on fire, throwing them into schools, and filming poisoned students in order to frame the government and make people view the Islamic Republic in a pessimistic light.
A recent Tasnim article was published on April 28 titled: “The statement of the Ministry of Intelligence about the country's school accidents — toxic substances were not used, but other factors were identified.”
The Ministry of Intelligence further claims that no traces of toxic substances were found in any laboratory investigations; instead, the reasons given for the poisonings include the usage of stink bombs, tear gas, and pepper sprays by students in an attempt to be mischievous and playful, presence of a scented agent such as a gas leak causing panic and mass hysteria. The statement also alleges to there being a handful of cases in which the aforementioned methods were used for anti-government aims, and continues by stating that most perpetrators in such cases have been arrested. Further on, the statement claims that the average attendance of students in the clinics was about two hours, and few of them were hospitalized for a short time due to anxiety. This is despite the existence of parental reports of long-term poisoning effects in their children.
Azadeh writes under a pseudonym, for personal safety concerns. Email them at
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