On 16 March, the European Parliament adopted a Joint Motion for a Resolution on Iran calling for an independent investigation by the UN Human Rights Council into a recent wave of poisonings affecting schoolgirls. The resolution condemns these poisonings in the strongest terms and calls it an atrocious attempt to silence women and girls in Iran. According to state media and officials, over 13,000 pupils, mostly girls, have fallen ill after "girl school poisonings".
The officials of the regime have been attempting to downplay this heinous crime by blaming it on opposition groups in an attempt to agitate society and create more discontent for continued protests. Some politicians within Khamenei's regime circle even began to blame religious groups who oppose girls' education.
Since the first reported attack on 30 November, a wave of sickness has swept through Iranian schools and colleges, affecting thousands of schoolgirls, many of whom have been hospitalized. These attacks have added to the already high public anger at the authorities, sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman in the custody of morality police last September, which unleashed widespread anti-government protests.
The European Parliament's resolution calls on the Iranian authorities to launch a credible and transparent investigation in coordination with independent international organizations and to hold those responsible to account. It also calls on the European Commission, institutions and member states “to increase technical and capacity support to Iranian civil society and to facilitate the issues of visas and asylum, as well as emergency grants for those who need to leave the country, particularly women and girls.”
Member of the European Parliament from Spain, Ernest Urtasun said, “We cannot, and we will not remain silent in the face of such atrocity, and we call on Iran to launch a credible and transparent investigation but also together with independent international organizations and to hold those responsible to account.”
The resolution calls for the European institutions to reflect on the deeply rooted protest movement of Iranian women and acknowledges that this movement goes beyond the defence of women’s rights, advocating for a democratic state in Iran instead of a violent and reactionary theocracy.
Another Member of the European Parliament, David Lega said, “Girls have been prevented from attending education, and this has hindered both young girls and their parents from participating in the protests against the regime.”
A week prior to the passing of this resolution in the Washington Summit in support of Iranian uprisings, opposition leader Maryam Rajavi emphasized the significance of the Iran uprising as a threat to the regime's existence. She further stated that the regime had carried out a horrific crime by poisoning thousands of schoolgirls through chemical attacks to stop the uprising. Rajavi demanded that Khamenei accept an international investigation mission to prove otherwise.
The regime's attempt to downplay the poisonings by blaming it on opposition groups or religious groups opposed to girls' education is an obvious tactic to avoid accountability. The public's reaction has been one of shock and outrage, with many posting their personal observations and evidence on social media suggesting that this is Khamenei's inhuman tactic to take revenge on the brave young students and schoolgirls who are the driving force behind the ongoing protests in Iran.
The EU resolution is a crucial step towards holding the Iranian regime accountable for these heinous crimes against young women and girls. It is also a call to action for the international community to support Iranian civil society and advocate for a democratic state in Iran. The resolution sends a clear message to the Iranian authorities that the world is watching and will not tolerate such atrocities against women and girls.
Jalal Arani is a UK-based Iran Analyst, Researcher, and Policy Advisor with extensive experience in Iranian politics and the Middle East.
He offers insightful analysis of the complex issues facing Iran today and is well-connected to the Iranian diaspora in the UK, US, and Europe.