Iran: the regime blocks access to the Internet

The ayatollahs’ regime has closed one of the few windows open on the protest movement which is shaking iran for more than six days now: Internet and social networks. From the start of the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police, connections had been restricted to Kurdistan, where the 22-year-old was from, as well as to Tehran.

Iranian women at the forefront of the revolt against the Tehran regime

But on Wednesday September 21, the authorities moved up a gear by blocking access to Instagram, one of the last social networks accessible in the territory, then to WhatsApp messaging in the evening. The NetBlocks site, which monitors freedom of access to the Internet, also noted a loss of national connectivity on MCI, the largest national mobile operator.

The decision was motivated, according to the Fars news agency, by “actions carried out by counter-revolutionaries against national security via these social networks”. The YouTube, Twitter, Telegram, TikTok and Facebook platforms have already been banned for several years in the country, and only VPN-type software allows Internet users to consult web pages hosted abroad.

A restricted space of freedom

In the absence of free media coverage, videos, tweets and hashtags like #MahsaAmini were a valuable conduit for protesters eager to voice their demands, their angry messages and especially their videos, including those showing them attacking symbols of power and push back the forces of order.

Iran: with the hashtag #MahsaAmini, an unprecedented movement of women’s rebellion

The measure, feared for several days, is all the stronger since the penetration rate of social networks is very high among the population: 70% of Iranians have access to them and express themselves, starting with women and young people. , who use it as a means of resistance. A restricted area of ​​freedom, against which the regime has its own “army” on the Internet, made up of “trolls” responsible for attacking content deemed militant and disseminating false information.

The specter of winter 2019

Tehran resorts to a blackout as soon as the protest becomes too visible. During the November-December 2019 events, triggered by the announcement of a rise in the price of gasoline, the regime had imposed an almost total shutdown of the Internet for more than a week. The gradual return of connections had highlighted one of the Islamic Republic’s most brutal crackdowns, killing up to 1,500 people, according to a Reuters investigation.

While state television mentioned the figure of 17 dead on Thursday, the opposition NGO Iran Human Rights listed at least 31 civilians killed by the security forces, while warning that the toll could be high. superior.

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Iran: the regime blocks access to the Internet

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