Internet restricted in Iran as anti-government protests intensify

Protests over the death of a woman in police custody in Iran last week intensified on Wednesday as unrest spread to dozens of cities.

Driving the news: Mahsa Amini, 22, died after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating a religious law requiring women to wear a headscarf.

  • Police claimed Amini was not abused and died of a heart attack. Her family has expressed doubts about this claim, reports AP.
  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who was in New York for the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, has ordered an investigation into Amini’s death.
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The big picture Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, said Wednesday seven protesters had been killed and hundreds more injured since demonstrations began last Friday. Hundreds have also been arrested, the group added.

  • According to Reuters, Iranian officials have denied reports that protesters were killed by security forces. According to the New York Times, some officials have claimed without evidence that “foreign agents” are fomenting the riots.
  • Demonstrators have demanded greater freedoms, with some women burning their headscarves, Reuters reports.

Game Status: NetBlocks, a London-based watchdog that monitors internet access worldwide, said Wednesday that Whatsapp and Instagram have been restricted in Iran. Tehran already blocks Facebook, Telegram and Twitter, although many Iranians use VPNs to circumvent the restrictions.

  • NetBlocks also reported an “almost total disruption” to internet service in parts of Iran’s Kurdistan province, where Amini was from, and a “nationwide shutdown of cellphone networks.”
  • Iran has restricted internet access in the past to stem anti-government protests.
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What you say: President Biden On Wednesday, the US said it “stands with the brave citizens and brave women of Iran who are demonstrating right now to secure their fundamental rights.” Several European countries have also called for an investigation.

  • Nada Al-Nashif, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Iranian authorities must stop targeting, harassing and detaining women who do not comply with hijab rules.
  • Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani accused the US and European Union of interfering in Iran’s internal affairs, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency. He urged the US and EU not to use Amini’s death to “politicize and objectify” the human rights issue in Iran.
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