As of mid-March, the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) reported more than 13,000 Iranian schoolgirls may have been poisoned in chemical gas attacks dating back to November 2022.
Ben Baird, director of MEF Action, an advocacy project at the Middle East Forum, tells American Family News schoolgirls across the country reported dizziness, difficulty breathing, and nausea.
What did young schoolgirls do to get attacked by their own government? When protesters poured into the streets of Iran's cities to denounce the killing of Maysa Amini, 22, by police, it was fellow young women who marched shoulder to shoulder demanding justice for Amini and freedom from Iran's authoritarian Islamic laws.
Thanks to camera phones and social media, the Iranian regime watched the world witness Iran's courageous young schoolgirls yank off their hijabs in protest.
The regime initially dismissed the poisoning cases as "foreign propaganda," Baird says, but that claim changed to laughable excuses such as mass hysteria and children pulling pranks. Meanwhile, multiple hospitals across the country were reporting similar symptoms, and the odors of rotten fruit or bleach.
“Eventually the regime had no other option than to address this," Baird says.
An investigation was conducted, and over 100 people were detained, and then the attacks suddenly stopped.
Instead of helping the victims, there were many examples of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) coming in to “contain or isolate witnesses, telling them not to talk to anyone about what happened,” he says.
It is now obvious someone in Iran was trying to punish young girls for playing a role in the protests, Baird concludes, and that mass poisoning cannot happen without the approval of the regime.
An upper hand to investigate
“Fortunately,” Baird notes, “the Iranian regime is part of the Chemical Weapons Convention."
The organization that oversees this convention is called the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW).
According to its bylaws, he says, “any country that is part of this treaty can challenge a country if they are not satisfied with the answers they’ve been giving about compliance to the Convention.”
So the Iranian regime should be open to an inspection and investigation but Baird predicts it will not.
To date, the Iranian regime has avoided international inspection from the White House or European Union. For this reason, the organizations are petitioning for Congress to initiate inspections to find the source and reason for the poisonings by holding them accountable to rules and conduct outlined by the OPCW.
Middle East Forum has partnered with the Revolutionary Council of Dadkhahan Iran to begin a campaign to “tell Congress to push for an international investigation into the chemical poisoning of thousands of Iranian schoolgirls.”
Baird identifies the council as Iranian expatriates from around the world. “Each one of them has lost loved ones at one point from the regime,” he notes.