Does Iran have internet

Iran: Internet blackout and unclear situation

The Iranian government has responded to the recent demonstrations with a comprehensive Internet ban, Amnesty says more than 100 deaths

After the protests against petrol price hikes in Iran had been blocked again and again since the beginning of the protests, there has been almost complete radio silence since Tuesday morning. The Iranian social media users have fallen silent. It is no longer possible to reach the people in the country by e-mail, messenger or mobile communications. Only state websites and online services are available within Iran.

And from there there is at best dubious information. In the run-up to the reform that sparked the protests last Friday, the Iranian media had received instructions to treat them positively. Journalists who openly report on the demonstrations were threatened with consequences. Since then, both government agencies and the media in the country have tried to downplay the extent of the unrest.

"Situation under control", arrests

On Tuesday, a government spokesman said the situation was largely under control. The daily Kayhan, which is close to the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for the death penalty for the initiators of the protests, and the television showed numerous arrested men who, however, were not identifiable because they held their hands in front of their faces. It was said that they confessed to receiving foreign funding. In Iran, it is common for political prisoners to obtain false confessions on camera.

While, according to official figures, nine people are said to have died so far, Amnesty International speaks of at least 106 deaths, and opposition Iranian exiled media even more than 200 deaths. This information cannot be verified. Since Monday, information has only been coming from the country very sporadically.

Revolutionary Guards threaten with violence

There were also internet blocks during the uprisings of the Green Movement in summer 2009 and the mass protests at the turn of 2017/2018, but the country has not yet experienced a blackout of this magnitude - an indication that the regime was better prepared this time, on the other hand but also an indication that the resistance is significantly greater and more lasting than one would like to admit. Just a few hours before the total lockdown, the Revolutionary Guards had openly threatened the demonstrators with violence.

Meanwhile, gasoline price increases are only marginally involved. Recordings from across the country showed large-scale demonstrations in which both the government of President Rouhani and revolutionary leader Khamenei were directly attacked.

Protesters attacked banks, police stations, theology schools and institutions of the Revolutionary Guard and set them on fire. Police fired live ammunition into crowds, and the streets were dead and injured. Drones filmed the demonstrators from the air, probably to be able to identify them later. So far there are said to have been more than 1,000 arrests.

All of this information is now at least two days old. While the situation in the capital Tehran has apparently calmed down, the demonstrations are said to continue in numerous other cities and meet with sheer violence from the police and the Revolutionary Guard. It is not possible to say at this point in time what extent the protests actually are and how they will affect them.

However, since the Iranian government announced that it would maintain the Internet blocks for the time being, it can be assumed that the situation has by no means calmed down. Human rights organizations and the United Nations called on the Iranian authorities to end the violence and allow peaceful demonstrations. (Gerrit Wustmann)

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