| Welcome to Global Village Space

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Internet restricted across Iran amidst Mahsa Amini death protests

Iran has shut off the internet in parts of Tehran and Kurdistan, and blocked access to platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp, in an attempt to curb a growing protest movement that has relied on social media to document dissent.

As protests over the death of a young woman in the care of the morality police rock the Islamic Republic, Iranian authorities claim they will block internet access in the nation until an order is restored to the streets.

Since the murder last week of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was detained in Tehran and transported to a “re-education center,” presumably for failing to properly wear her hijab, thousands of Iranians have flocked to the streets in protest.

Read more: Iran’s President cancels CNN interview after Amanpour rejects wearing scarf

At least 40 towns around the country, including the capital Tehran, have witnessed protests since last Friday, with demonstrators calling for an end to violence and discrimination against women as well as the requirement to wear the hijab.

Outrage over Amini’s death comes from public skepticism over the account given by state officials, who claim she died after suffering a “heart attack” and fell into a coma. But Amini’s family has said she had no pre-existing heart condition.

Amini’s death has now become a symbol of the violent oppression women have faced in Iran for decades, and her name has spread around the globe, with world leaders invoking her even at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City this week.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Thursday said UN experts strongly condemned the use of physical violence against women in Iran by state authorities.

Read more: Will Iran turn to al-Qaeda to combat Islamic State?

Internet crackdown

The internet monitoring agency Netblocks said Friday that Iranians are facing a third wave of “nation-scale” loss of mobile internet connectivity as the protests continue.

The watchdog group said earlier in the week that Iran was experiencing the most severe internet restrictions since 2019, with mobile networks largely shut down and social networks Instagram and WhatsApp restricted in the country since protests began.

To circumvent internet blocks, Iranians both inside the country and in the diaspora are turning to popular Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers such as Tor Project and Hula VPN — the top downloaded apps available in Iran via Google Play Store, a marketplace for Android smartphone users to download apps, according to monitoring service AppBrain.