Horrifying videos of young school girls in Iran struggling to breathe as they try to force their way out of schools are circulating online amid a shocking wave of poison attacks against schools nationwide.
One video shared by a journalist shows dozens of girls on the floor outside their classrooms, coughing, gasping for air, and crying in pain. The footage comes as Iranian officials confirmed that over 5,000 school children had been affected by the attacks in their classrooms with poisonous gas.
Since the attacks started in November last year, they have mostly targeted female pupils. Many unverified videos have been circulating online since then, showing many of the emergency rooms in the country packed with young girls.
The mysterious unrelenting poisonings across Iran have triggered numerous angry protests by distressed parents and teachers, with allegations from human rights groups that the Iranian government is complicit in the attacks.
The first attacks happened shortly after nationwide protests began following 22-year-old Kurd Mahsa Amino’s death in police custody after she was arrested for allegedly not tying her hijab well.
There are speculations that authorities may be carrying out the attacks in retaliation for the girls’ roles in the protests. Others also speculate that extremist groups are attacking the schools to force women and girls to stop attending classes.
In the video shared by BBC journalist Parham Ghobadi, girls are seen sitting on the floor after rushing out of a classroom while struggling to breathe.
Another video clip shared by an anti-government group shows dozens of girls fighting to get out of a school compound after a poison attack. People are seen trying to stop them from leaving the compound, as the girls say they don’t want to die.
In another video, a woman filming it claims that government forces in Rasht fired teargas at mothers protesting the attacks.
The international community has condemned the attacks, with the White House calling for the UN to investigate the poisonings.
A member of the fact-finding committee said that the attacks had been carried out in about 230 schools across the country.
On Monday, the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, gave a statement that the crime of poisoning schoolgirls was “unforgivable” and that the perpetrators should be punished by death if the attacks were deliberate.