More than 1000 university students appear to have been poisoned in the lead up to mass anti-regime protests being held across Iran this week.
According to ISNA, an Iranian news agency, 1200 students at Kharazmi and Ark universities were taken ill with vomiting on Monday, severe body aches and hallucinations. Similar illnesses were reported by at least four other universities.
The Iranian Science Ministry confirmed the students were struck by food poisoning, which led to them protesting by dumping their food trays onto the street. Video footage posted online over the weekend showed row upon row of plastic bags containing canteen food on the ground outside Ark university, while social media videos show long lines of trays snaking along the pavements or piling up.
The Iranian regime has been accused of deliberately poisoning students to thwart their latest protest, while authorities have blamed accidental food poisoning linked to an outbreak of water-borne bacteria. Reports of sickness also emerged on Saturday, including at Isfahan University of Technology.
A statement from the national student union said: “Our past experiences of similar incidents at the Isfahan university negates the authorities’ reason for this mass food poisoning”.
The union claimed the universities’ clinics have closed or suddenly run out of electrolytes which has made it harder to treat dehydration – a common symptom of food poisoning. Meanwhile, female students have been told to remain inside their dormitories at some universities.
Iranians have called for an intensified three-day period of national strikes and protests that began on Monday.
It came as a state broadcaster denied reports that the regime had scrapped its “morality police”, the religious enforcers whose alleged killing of student Mahsa Amini, 22, triggered the mass protest movement.