Iranian authorities have shut down the internet almost completely, civilian monitors report. Disruptions reportedly started on Monday and worsened by Wednesday evening.
London-based Internet freedom advocates NetBlocks confirmed a “near-total disruption” to Internet services in Iran’s Kurdistan province, and partial disruption in capital Tehran and other parts of the country.
Instagram and WhatsApp were the last two international platforms to be restricted nationally as of Wednesday, the watchdog reported.
Mobile networks MCI and Rightel have been “largely shut down”, with Irancell still providing limited service, according to NetBlocks. The group has detected a drop to 0% from near-full capacity on 19 September at about 16:00 local time.
Sporadic disruptions started on Friday, when the current wave of protests first broke out against the death of Jîna Mahsa Amini in police custody. Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, was arrested for wearing the compulsory hijab ‘improperly’. Protests have spread to at least 50 cities, Reuters reported.
While Iranian authorities recognise four casualties, including a member of the police force and a pro-government militia member, human rights organisations report up to 11 civilian deaths at the hands of state security forces.
The protests are the largest since those of 2019, when tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the doubling of fuel prices and the country experienced a week-long internet blackout.
“Remember when they shut down the internet 3 years ago, at least 1500 people were killed on streets in only 2 days,” journalist Behrouz Boochani said.
The Fars News Agency, managed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, ran videos accusing protesters of targeting Islamic shrines and pulling off women’s veils, a move that had preceded violent crackdowns in earlier unrests dating back to 2009, Reuters said.
“We are worried that the world will forget about Iran as soon as the regime shuts down the internet – which is already happening,” an activist told Reuters.
Amnesty International called for “urgent global action” in the face of Iran’s deadly crackdown.
“Iran’s security forces will continue to feel emboldened to kill or injure protesters and prisoners, including women arrested for defying abusive compulsory veiling laws, if they are not held accountable,” said Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
There are no domestic avenues for accountability, Eltahawy said, calling for the UN Human Rights Council to, “send a strong message to the Iranian authorities that those responsible for crimes under international law will not go unpunished”.