Iran’s internet shutdown ahead of looming protests

Iran’s internet shutdown ahead of looming protests

Iranian authorities reportedly blocked mobile internet access to overseas sites a day before a new nationwide protest is set to commence on December 26. Hikes in gasoline prices have called for renewed protests and commemoration ceremonies for those murdered in the unrest witnessed by the nation in November.

It is estimated that close to 1,500 protesters were reportedly murdered in the bloodiest political shakedown, which took place this November, since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. According to Reuters, three Iranian interior ministry officials said that the fatalities included “at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women as well as members of the security forces and police.”

While the protests in November were initially sparked by gasoline price hikes, it has since expanded to protesters expressing more demands – such as political freedom. Human rights groups claim the deaths resulted almost entirely from the intentional use of firearms by Iranian security forces.

The shutdown explained

Fear of footage from demonstrations reaching the outside world is the main reason for the alleged abrupt Internet shutdown in Iran. In November, the Iranian government reportedly blocked the Internet for a week, which made reporting on the demonstration crackdown by Iranian security forces more challenging.

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks has confirmed that there is a disruption in mobile Internet services in parts of Iran, using the hashtag #Internet4Iran. “Evidence of mobile internet disruption in parts of #Iran beginning ~6:30 a.m. (03:00 UTC); real-time network data show two distinct drops in connectivity this morning amid reports of regional outages; incident ongoing #Internet4Iran,” NetBlocks tweeted on December 25.

However, a communications ministry spokesman denied ever sending out an order to shut off Internet connectivity anywhere in Iran.

What now?

A repeat of the November protest’s casualties is expected this time around, as hospitals are preparing to deal with high volumes of injured protesters from the expected December 26 protests. “Hospitals are ordered to be prepared 2d in advance for #IranProtests on Dec 26. There are security forces in plain clothes pretending to be medical staff to arrest the injured. This is the kind of animals we are dealing with. Please be our voice around the world,” tweeted Iranian resident @BehtarIran.

A heavy presence of armed forces have reportedly been detected in Tehran and other major cities as Iranians are planning for demonstrations against the regime. “Convoy of riot police, armored vehicles and water cannons moving through the streets of Shahriar southern Tehran, #Iran, tonight as the regime gets ready to crush #IranProtests planned for tomorrow Dec. 26.” tweeted news agency Iran News Wire on December 25.

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