(NewsNation) — Since November, thousands of students across hundreds of mostly girls’ schools in Iran have reported getting sick from toxic fumes.
There have been no fatalities, and it remains unclear what chemical might have been used.
The suspected poisonings come in the wake of recent anti-governmental protests that began in September, sparked by the death of a young woman detained by morality police.
Iranian leaders announced that they made arrests linked to the poisonings, but officials did not name suspects or provide any other details.
Because of this, Moj Mahdara, founding member of the Iranian Diaspora Collective, says she has no confidence that those behind the poisonings will be held accountable.
“This regime…. it’s not within its DNA to be accountable, to be transparent, to allow for the independent investigations that the world is calling for in this moment,” Mahdara said. “And let’s be honest, this is an effort to suppress young women and girls specifically — to get them to be removed from educational places and public spaces.”
People are not just protesting because of the poisonings, Mahdara stressed.
“They’re protesting for a secular democracy, for referendums, and for this regime to be held accountable, for its 43 years of crimes against humanity,” Mahdara said.
Other countries, including the U.S., Mahdara said, need to “step up” and end all diplomatic relations with the Iranian regime and support the Iranian people.
“This is not a moment for lip service. This is a moment for action it to hit them where it hurts, which is economically,” Mahdara said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.