EU calls for UN to probe Iran schoolgirl poisonings
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -European lawmakers called on the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday to conduct an independent investigation into a wave of poisonings that have hit schoolgirls in Iran.
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 a 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 sickness in schools 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.
Some activists have accused the establishment of orchestrating the poisonings in revenge for the fact that schoolgirls joined the protests.
Iran's supreme leader said earlier this month that the poisoning schoolgirls is an "unforgivable" crime that should be punished by death if deliberate, state TV reported.
Iran has arrested several people it said were linked to the wave of poisonings and accused some of connections to "foreign-based dissident media" .
(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout, additional reporting by Elwely Elwelly from Abu Dhabi;Editing by Frances Kerry and Toby Chopra)