School fire in Iran kills Kurdish girl
On December 5th, 2012, in a Kurdish inhabited village called Shinawa near Piranshaar in Iran, on a cold morning while all 37 students of the class, all girls in the age between 6 to 10, were in the class room with their teacher, something happened to the ragged oil stove that they had to use for warming the room.
Fire was spreading when they asked for help from the school’s concierge and when he was trying to throw out the whole fire piece, it suddenly exploded. All 37 girls, the teacher and the concierge were trapped in the room on fire. The fire turned the class to ashes and all the girls were hospitalized. The burned students were moved to a local health center and the heavily burned ones were quickly moved to the province capital Urmie and some to Tabriz.
Although 37 innocent students burned heavily in this tragedy, Iranian national broadcasting didn’t cover it more than a few times in news. Unfortunately no one in the Iranian government took any responsibility for this tragedy. Few days after the fire, the education minister, Mr Haji Babai, stated that “We are sad for what happened but no one is in charge for this matter. There is a possibility that the teacher was the main reason of the fire.”
After his statement on December 8, 2012, the parliament asked for more explanations from him.
4 days after this horrifying accident, on the evening of December 9th, one of the heavily burned girls named Sayran passed away, mostly because of the poisonous gas and a skin burn covering 45 % of her body, doctors said. 4 other students are suffering from the same complications and they are in a deadly situation.
Authors, artists and politicians from Southern Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan) stated their sympathy and condolences to the injured students’ families.
In Eastern Kurdistan (Irani Kurdistan), teachers and some activist groups announced a day off for their memorial and as a protest against the central government’s full ignorance. “What is an old oil stove doing in a country that holds the second place in biggest natural gas reserves, in a school full of kids, while the whole region has gas pipe?” they said.
Iranian security forces didn’t allow for the body of the child to be buried in her own town. They also did not allow some of the other students from Tabriz’s university to visit them while they were in hospital.
A students group in Tehran took an oil stove to the minister’s office building to protest what they called “being totally irresponsible.” They want him to resign.
The only Kurdish newspaper in Turkey yesterday wrote: “Our hearts are broken … Dear Sayran.”
Bahman Ghobadi, a famous Kurdish director, released a statement:
“The flames of this travesty are burning me up from inside. My tears flow, but not a sound leaves my mouth. It’s as if my throat were scorched. I kiss your burned bodies from afar. I don’t know when, but the day will come when the money meant to fuel those furnaces will no longer line the pockets of the duplicitous and deceitful ones of whom this world has already tired. Shame on those who burned you in their own fire, and whose apologies will forever live in infamy, an outrage against the conscience of a world that little note nor long remembers such outrageous lies.”
Update I: 24 hours after the Iranian Education’s Secretary claimed that all injured were in good condition, yet another one of burned girls named Amene Esma’ili, 10 years old, passed away, independent press published.
Update II: On December 28th, 2012 another of the injured girls passed away. Her name is Sarina Rasoolzade, 10 years old.