Iran Says 110 Arrested over Suspected Schoolgirl Poisonings

People shop at a market in Tehran on March 14, 2023. (AFP)
People shop at a market in Tehran on March 14, 2023. (AFP)
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Iran Says 110 Arrested over Suspected Schoolgirl Poisonings

People shop at a market in Tehran on March 14, 2023. (AFP)
People shop at a market in Tehran on March 14, 2023. (AFP)

Iranian police said Wednesday that 110 suspects have been arrested in connection with the suspected poisoning of thousands of girls in schools across the country.

Students say they have been sickened by noxious fumes in incidents dating back to November that have mainly occurred in girls' schools. Authorities say they are investigating, but there has been no word on who might be behind the incidents or what — if any — chemicals have been used.

Unlike neighboring Afghanistan, Iran has no history of extremists targeting women's education, even during the height of its 1979 revolution. There have been no fatalities, and some officials have suggested that mass hysteria might have played a role.

Gen. Saeed Montazerolmehdi, the police spokesperson, announced the arrests in remarks carried by Iranian media. He also said police had confiscated thousands of stink bomb toys, indicating that some of the alleged attacks might have been copycat pranks.

Others appear to be more serious, with hundreds of students hospitalized, according to local media reports and rights groups.

Iran has heavily restricted independent media and arrested dozens of journalists since the outbreak of nationwide antigovernment protests last September. It has also targeted reporters covering the poisonings, even as officials have provided few details about what is happening.

A lawmaker on a government panel investigating the incidents said earlier this month that as many as 5,000 students have complained of being sickened in 230 schools across 25 provinces. Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the recent protests, has put the number at over 7,000 students.

The World Health Organization documented what might have been a similar phenomenon in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2012, when hundreds of girls across the country complained of strange smells and poisoning. No evidence was found to support the suspicions, and WHO said it appeared to be a “mass psychogenic illness.”



Iran Top Court Overturns Rapper Toomaj Salehi’s Death Sentence, Lawyer Says

People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
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Iran Top Court Overturns Rapper Toomaj Salehi’s Death Sentence, Lawyer Says

People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)
People hold placards bearing portraits of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who is arrested in Iran, and portraits of children (L), who were killed during the protests in Iran, during a rally in support of Iranian women in Istanbul, on November 26, 2022. (AFP)

Iran's supreme court has overturned Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi's death sentence on charges linked to the country's 2022-23 period of unrest, his lawyer wrote in a post on the X social media platform on Saturday.

"The death sentence of #Toomaj_Salehi was overturned and based on the appeal decision ...of the Supreme Court, the case will be referred to (another) branch for consideration," attorney Amir Raisian wrote on X.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the ruling.

Salehi's songs supported protests sparked by the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish Iranian woman arrested for allegedly wearing an "improper" hijab.