Chemical Attacks on
Iranian Students

Deliberate chemical attacks have poisoned thousands of students across Iran.
Most victims are schoolgirls.

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These attacks have been sophisticated, organized, persistent, widespread, and targeted. Iran’s clerical regime likely perpetrated the attacks in response to the revolutionary protests that have consumed the country since September 2022, when government officials killed 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for alleged improper headscarf wear.

Further, in a country like Iran, where the government has tight control over society, it is unlikely that anti-regime groups could have engaged in such operations in broad daylight. In addition, dissident groups have no incentive to target schoolgirls in the middle of a revolution promoting women’s rights.

The attacks began in November 2022, but it was only in March 2023 that the poisonings came to dominate the Iranian national psyche as the number of attacks increased and their geographical distribution spread. One hundred and four attacks occurred on March 6 alone, prompting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to call them “unforgivable crimes” that warrant “the most severe of punishments.”

Daily Number of Reported Attacks

Our database includes 272 attacks, 247 of which happened in March, spread across 139 cities and towns. We count at least 1,717 student victims, though other sources have offered numbers as high as 7,000. It is likely that even more students were exposed to the poisons.

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