EU lawmakers on Thursday (16 March) adopted a resolution calling on the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation into a wave of poisonings that have hit schoolgirls in Iran.
Over 13,000 pupils, mostly girls, have fallen ill after “suspected poisonings”, according to state media and officials in Iran, with some politicians blaming religious groups opposed to girls’ education.
In their resolution, the European Parliament condemned “in the strongest terms, this atrocious attempt to silence women and girls in Iran”.
It also urged EU member states to facilitate the issuance of visas, asylum and emergency grants to those who need to leave Iran, “, particularly women and girls”.
The vote comes after the call for an investigation over the poisoning of Iranian school girls from several EU lawmakers.
“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 organisations and to hold those responsible to account,” MEP Ernest Urtasun (Renew, Greens) said.
Multiple attacks have occurred towards young women and girls in Iranian schools and colleges since the first reported attack on November 30, which led to 18 school girls being hospitalised.
The wave of sickness has added to public anger at the authorities, already running high after the death last September of a young woman while in the custody of morality police, which unleashed the biggest anti-government protests in Iran in years.
“Thousands of school girls in Iran have been poisoned, many of whom have been hospitalised, and we don’t know for sure who is behind the attacks or what the purpose of them is, but what we do know for sure is that girls have been hurt,” MEP David Lega (EPP, Sweden) said.
“Girls have been prevented from attending [their] education, and [this] has hindered both young girls and their parents from participating in the protests against the regime,” Lega added.
Iran said it “arrested more than 100 people “in connection with” the suspected poisoning of hundreds of schoolgirls across the country, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
The resolution calls on the European Commission 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,” Urtasun said.
It also “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.”
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski/Alice Taylor]