Internet 'partially restored' in Iran following violent crackdown on anti-government protests

Internet 'partially restored' in Iran following violent crackdown on anti-government protests
The Internet monitoring organisation Netblocks has reported that internet connectivity has been restored in Iran following a week of anti-government protests which were violently suppressed by security forces.
3 min read
23 November, 2019
Internet connectivity was partially restored on Sunday [Getty]
The internet has been partially restored in Iran following a week-long shutdown which the government imposed in response to popular protests.

The demonstrations flared up on 15 November, hours after Tehran announced it would raise the price of petrol by up to 200 percent in the sanctions-hit country

The internet monitoring organisation Netblocks reported on Saturday that connectivity levels were two-thirds of what they were before the shutdown took place.

Iranians have struggled to adjust to life offline for almost a week and were forced to resort to old ways due to a near-total internet blackout imposed amid violent protests.

The internet restrictions aimed to prevent news of public anger over the petrol price hikes and footage of the unrest being shared.

Read more: Iraq and Lebanon protests – Iran watches in the wings

The government has responded to the protests with a violent crackdown, arresting more than 1,000 protesters. Amnesty International estimates that 106 protesters were killed by security forces in 21 Iranian cities over the past week.

Brigadier General Salar Abnoosh, a deputy head of the Basij volunteer militia, said on Friday that the internet outage had helped to "disrupt the complicated" plans by Iran's enemies.

On Saturday morning - the start of the working week in Iran -- people in Tehran were trying to overcome problems brought on by the outage.

Some said they had been forced to make long journeys to carry out simple transactions that they used to be able to do in a couple of clicks online.

"We have no other choice," said a woman in her 30s who only gave her name as Asgari.

"What I could have done by using internet now I have to do by telephone or some other means," she told AFP.

"I've taken today off from work to come into town to do something which I could’ve done by using the internet."

Others said they were having difficulty reaching loved ones overseas.

"I wanted to call my children but I couldn't," said Taheri, a man in his 70s. "They were worried and had to go and get a card to call us. This is not right."

The United States slapped sanctions on Iran’s telecommunications minister on Friday night "for restricting internet access".

The minister, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, said he was just another Iranian made to suffer the consequences of sanctions that the US reimposed after withdrawing from a 2015 nuclear deal.

"I'm not the only member of club of sanctioned persons," he tweeted.

"Before me, Iran ICT startups, Developers, Cancer patients and EB children were there," he said, referring to epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

Iran says the US sanctions have hindered its access to drugs for EB, a skin condition that afflicts children, causing several deaths.

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