Iran Update: Schoolgirl Poisonings and Other News

Learn About the First Counter Revolution Led by Women

“Until the last breath: woman, life, freedom”

Iran is now 6 months into their revolution and there are no signs that it will die down any time soon. As it is National Women’s History month it is important to recognize and honor women all over the world still fighting for basic human rights. If you consider yourself a feminist or someone who at all cares about human rights, you must educate yourself on what is happening to women in Iran- intersectionality is key. This movement is not only a fight for women but a fight for human rights! We would like to give a quick update on the latest in this fight for freedom.

Schoolgirl Poisonings

A recent report has confirmed what citizens already feared, which is that the Islamic Republic has been using chemical warfare against young schoolgirls- literally biological terrorism! Many young girls were being sent to the hospital after being exposed to toxic chemicals. 

The first incident was reported in November in Qom after 18 young girls were sent to the hospital, and this past Sunday alone there were 80 attacks, bringing the total up to 116. So far, more than 1,500 young girls have been hospitalized. Students have reported a “rotten egg” smell being released from the vents and many have fallen ill, with one confirmed death. Supreme leader Khamenei says these attacks are “unforgivable”, however, this is the same man who vowed punishment for the anti-government protests, which makes this statement a blatant coverup. Foul play is clearly involved- there is no doubt of the regime’s hand, regardless of what they say. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, rebutted Khamenei’s claims, stating “Belatedly, Khamenei has woken up and is looking for others to blame for poisoning schoolgirls in fear of an uprising, but there’s no one to blame other than himself and the agencies and elements under his command. Otherwise, Khamenei must accept a visit by an international investigative mission which we asked the UN to form from Day 1. In the meantime, we must step up our protests and demonstrations”. 

Additionally, these attacks are primarily being reported in all-girls schools, posing further concerns over Khamenei’s attack against women’s rights. A survivor of these poisonings stated “I felt dizzy and fainted. I had dimness of vision and heart palpitations. All of us had identical symptoms; palpitations, my hands and legs were numb and frozen. I was shaken. We had tears coming out of our eyes”.

In many instances, the children were not even allowed to leave the building- some attacks kept the girls inside for almost an hour. Young girls are leading the revolution in Iran and are the biggest threats to Khamenei’s power and he knows this. Heartbreaking videos have surfaced on social media showing parents pushing cars out of the way on streets to make room for buses full of their poisoned daughters to reach the hospital in time. Acts of bravery and defiance have also been reported, with a mother being seen taking post outside her daughter’s school to watch for suspicious behavior. However, these attacks are becoming more common and many parents are requesting at-home learning.

According to CNN when investigating suspected poisoning, hospitals have been forbidden from sharing details of children’s test results even with parents’ permission. A doctor said “I am inside Iran, my phone is being monitored. I can’t share any more with you”; the voice even had to be dubbed for fears of government pushback. Witnesses reported that right after schoolgirls arrived at the hospital, police officers, both in uniform and plainclothes, “took over the computers, not allowing anyone to re-record anything, or to take blood tests”. Just recently Iran’s interior minister stated “suspicious samples have been found” and “are being assessed at laboratories”. Although due to the unreliable past of authority involvement, many parents do not trust their investigations. It is absolutely despicable that young innocent girls from kindergarten to high school are being poisoned in their spaces of learning, a warning from the regime that they will stop nowhere. These attacks are similar to chemical attacks used by the Taliban and Daesh and protestors have gathered around the Ministry of Education, chanting “Death to Taliban, whether in Iran or Afghanistan”.

Death to Taliban, whether in Iran or Afghanistan


We have recently gotten some more updates from Iran in this fight for freedom:

Jamshid Sharmahd

Not only are Iranians living in Iran terrified of the regime, but also ex-pats living all over the world, and recent events only justify this fear. Jamshid Sharmahd is a German citizen, American resident, and journalist who has been kidnapped by the Iranian regime and sentenced to death after being arrested in 2020. Sharmahd has been vocal against the regime and even created his own website forum that allows Iranians inside Iran to connect with one another and report experiences, an invaluable resource.

He is part of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran in Los Angeles that advocates for the removal of the regime and hosts a radio show. His daughter, Gazelle Sharmahd states in an NPR interview that the kidnapping is “a message both to the domestic audience and the diaspora that we have you under control, and we’re willing to go as far as kidnapping people”. She even recalls a terrifying phone call they received 14 years ago that resulted in a regime agent showing up at their home with a plan to assassinate him by running him over and making it look like an accident, a plan that thankfully failed. Shamahd knew that the regime was looking for him, so he was cautious and paused his international business. However, on a trip to India, he had a layover in Dubai, which is very close to Iran and his connection was canceled, sparking fear in his family. The exact details are unknown, but it was there he was kidnapped and imprisoned by the regime.  After 733 days in solitary confinement, he has been charged with “corruption on Earth” and sentenced to death after the regime accused him of being involved in a 2008 bombing. 

 It is not properly understood that the Iranian diaspora, particularly public figures, are risking their lives to fight for their country. Masih Alinejad, a journalist who is at the forefront of the movement, has had numerous death plots against her uncovered, for example. And ordinary Iranians who have publicly spoken out can not return to their country unless this regime is taken down out of fear for their own lives and families.

Amirali Musa-Kazemi

On March 3rd a two-year-old, Amirali Musa-Kazemi, was killed when Iranian special forces engaged in an open fire at a car carrying him and his family in Esfahan. After this atrocity, the “1500 Images” Twitter account stated “Last night, a mother and father with two young children were traveling in a car when a truck belonging to the special unit swiveled in front of them. The driver of the car (a family friend) thought the truck driver was sleepy, so he decided to go around the truck. But the special forces opened fire at them and killed the child by shooting him in the head”.

The truck carrying these special forces was not identifiable as a police unit and no warning was given to the family before open fire commenced. Of course, despite this, the cause of death was “unintentional murder”. This is not the first time that children have been killed by the regime due to open fire against civilian vehicles; it is certainly not the last. On November 16th some may remember when Kian Pirfalak, a 9-year-old boy was killed in his vehicle by Iranian special forces. As of March 4th, it is was released that Amirali’s body was not returned to his family under the pretext that he will be returned in Tehran. It is devastating that families can not fully grieve the death of their children due to the encroachment of the regime. We need to remember their names. We need to spread awareness. We need to stay informed. 

The level of violence displayed by the Basij and the regime is absolutely atrocious and this is not the first time they have committed such acts of violence against children. Whether it be the chemical attacks we discussed above, beating little girls for not wearing their hijab correctly, or killing another young child named Kian Pirfalak, the regime has no issue abusing its own people.  

Brutality of Security Forces

Additionally, a symbol of perseverance has become the hundreds of protestors who have lost eyes in the protests due to the rubber bullets and metal pellets used by the security forces. However, these attacks on faces are not accidental. The “bird shot” gun they use is not meant to kill people, but can easily blind them if shooting into a crowd. They can kill however if shot at close distances. Protestors have confirmed that the security forces are deliberately shooting at their faces, lungs, and genital areas. Ghazal Ranjkesh, a protestor who lost her eye states, “Why did you shoot me? Why were you smiling when you did?”. This is disgustingly sadistic. Additionally, many protestors fear hospitals, due to the infiltration of security forces looking to arrest protesters at hospitals and for this reason many people avoid seeking treatment. This has caused many protesters to develop infections from their wounds.



An additional piece of disheartening news to come out of Iran this past week was the death of the last Asiatic cheetah, Pirouz, due to kidney failure. While this may seem unimportant, Pirouz was a symbol for many Iranians due to its presence only in Iran and his name itself means “victorious” in Farsi. The Asiatic cheetah was a symbol of pride for many Iranians, and his death is just a further symbol of how the regime is destroying Iranian culture and beauty. His caretakers fought endlessly for him since his birth in May, however, after his caretakers were imprisoned, he was threatened. His importance is reflected in the famous protest song “Baraye” by Shervin Hajipour with the line “For Pirouz and his possible extinction”. Pirouz is another piece of Iran stolen by the Islamic Republic. 

International Leaders Meet

On a lighter note, there have been strides for awareness and unification amidst all the heartbreak and anger. For the first time since the uprisings in 2022, world leaders for Iranian freedom met at Georgetown university to discuss a united vision for Iran’s future. The Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security (GIWPS) hosted leaders such as actresses Nazanin Boniadi and Golshifteh Farahani, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi, activists Masih Alinejad and Dr. Hamed Esmaeilion; former soccer captain Ali Karimi, former crown prince Reza Pahlavi, and Kurdish leader Abdullah Mohtadi. They plan to create a charter that includes “the demands of the people: something that relies on the declaration of human rights, on equality; that accepts the territorial integrity of Iran; and that reaffirms the decentralization of power,” said Masih Alinejad, author and women’s rights activist. All speakers united against the common goal of ending the regime and what it would mean for democracy.“Our only common enemy…is the Islamic Republic. We proved that our revolution is a revolution of empathy and unity. What we want is friendship, freedom, and equality,” said Abdullah Mohtadi, Secretary-General of Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan. Melanne Verveer, the executive director at GIWPS, said “Women in Iran have been on the frontlines of change for decades, but this time is different. Their demand for women, life, and freedom cannot be extinguished, we stand together with the brave protesters in Iran for Democratic change in Iran. Their cause is our cause”. As students, it is our responsibility to seek knowledge of global issues not just national ones. Since Masha Amini’s death, the regime has strengthened its hold over its people by detaining tens of thousands, increasing the usage of the death penalty, and holding multiple executions. The regime is using fear to trample free speech. We are very fortunate to not live with active fear of using our voice, thus we must speak out against these atrocities, being a voice for the thousands of women, children, and global citizens imprisoned by an oppressive government.

I encourage everyone to get involved in protests when possible. On Saturday April 1st, a march for Iran will be held in DC.

These are just recent events in Iran, and there are so many other stories,  but this revolution has been growing since October and there are no signs of it stopping anytime soon. It can sometimes feel that we are onlookers in this struggle for human rights, however, it is vital that we learn the stories of these people to keep their fight alive. Revolutions die in silence and this is no exception, which is why the regime continuously tries to shut down the internet so protestors cannot communicate with each other or send information outside of the country. The regime wants the outside world to look away, to turn their heads, however, we have the power to uplift the voices of Iranians fighting tirelessly every day. As the saying goes,” be our voice”. There have been people saved and there can be more if we refuse to let the regime act in darkness. For example, Armita Abbasi, who was arrested in September and subjected to unbelievable levels of brutality (including torture and rape) was released only a few weeks ago. Her bravery is remarkable and she is truly a hero. This revolution is led by women and the country will be freed by the unrelenting bravery of Iranian women.


For more information and latest updates on the revolution in Iran please visit: 


@masih_alinejad (Farsi w/ English translations)

@from____iran (English)

@1500tasvir_en (English translations)

@iraniandiasporacolllective (English)