Following the murder of a young woman - Mahsa Amini - in the street by government agents, only because part of her hair was out of her scarf, the multitude of unmet demands sparked a massive movement in Iran. While this movement involved various people in the society, however the courage of women, girls, and especially high school students has been especially remarkable. The killing of several teenage girls during a peaceful demonstration fuelled the fire of people's anger and protests spread to about 100 cities in Iran.
Dr Shirin Ebadi's Open Letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
This month and following the above-mentioned incidents, we are witnessing the mass poisonings by gas inhalation of students at girls' high schools and art schools seemingly aimed at intimidating families, to the point that some families are afraid to send their children to school.
In more than 50 schools in different cities including Qom, Tehran, Borujerd, Sari, Qazvin... more than five hundred students were hospitalized with symptoms of respiratory poisoning. Several students have said that an object like a grenade was thrown into the school and gas was released from it. The nature of the gas is still unknown. Although the deputy of research and technology department of the Ministry of Health has confirmed that the poisonings were intentional, unfortunately, no effective action has been taken to discover who is responsible for this crime, and this is while most of the cities are equipped with cameras and protesters are easily identified and arrested.
For Iranians, such conduct is reminiscent of Afghanistan under the Taliban. People believe that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are frustrated with with the protest of young girls against the compulsory hijab and the goal of repetition of such events is ultimately to limit the women and girls' movement and make them prisoners in their own homes. Considering that the first duty of any government is to provide security for its citizens, therefore, by announcing the danger of the Islamic Republic's inaction in following up on such incidents, we draw the attention of the international authorities to the fact the Islamic Republic of Iran’s opposition to “Women's rights” is certainly the root and the main cause of such tragedies, and therefore we urge you to use all your legal means to end such criminal acts.
2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Chairwoman of the Defenders of Human Rights Center