Teachers in Iran’s western Kurdish city of Saqqez went on strike and gathered in front of the Education Department on March 7 to protest a series of poisonings that has sickened hundreds of schoolgirls across the country over more than three months.
A member of the Saqqez Trade Union, who is also a teacher, told IranWire that the protest action was organized to “condemn this inhumane and immoral act and, most importantly, to protect the health of students."
A student said that no class was held because of the teachers’ strike.
"A large number of students didn’t show up either, and those who did were few in number and ready to gather or protest, but administrators did not allow them to do it.”
The protest took place amid a heavy presence of special units and plainclothes officers in Saqqez, the hometown of Mahsa Amini, whose death in September triggered ongoing nationwide protests demanding fundamental economic, social and political reforms.
Since late November, hundreds of school students, mostly girls, were treated for symptoms including nausea, headaches, coughing, breathing difficulties, and heart palpitations.
Some Iranians have suggested that the poisonings could be an attempt to force the closure of girls’ schools or a retaliation for students and women leading anti-government demonstrations sparked by Amini’s death.
While Iranian political figures and activists have described the wave of poisonings as "chemical" and "biological" attacks, officials have only recently admitted there may be a problem.
So far, no arrest has been announced in relation to the poisonings, which have sparked outrage among the families of the affected students and Iranian society at large.