Authorities in Iran have blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp after six days of protests following the death of a young woman arrested by morality police, in which at least 17 people died according to a report by a media outlet. State Thursday.
But the toll is likely to be much heavier, the opposition NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo, reporting at least 31 civilians killed by the security forces.
The death of 22-year-old Iranian Mahsa Amini has sparked strong condemnation around the world as international NGOs have denounced a “brutal” crackdown on protests.
Mahsa Amini, originally from Kurdistan (north-west), was arrested on September 13 in Tehran for “wearing inappropriate clothes” by the morality police responsible for enforcing the strict dress code in the Islamic Republic, where women must cover up hair and are not allowed to wear short or tight coats or jeans with holes. She died on September 16 in hospital.
Activists said she received a fatal blow to the head but Iranian officials denied this and announced an investigation.
Demonstrations broke out immediately after his death, affecting about fifteen cities across the country.
“Seventeen people, including demonstrators and police, have died in the events of the last few days”, according to the latest report given by state television, which does not give further details. A previous Iranian media report reported seven demonstrators and four police officers killed.
The Tasnim news agency later reported that a fifth member of the security forces was killed on Wednesday evening in Ghoushan (northwest) “while trying to disperse rioters” in this city.
Responding to popular anger, President Ebrahim Raisi, who is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, said Thursday that the death of Mahsa Amini would be investigated, saying he had contacted the family of the deceased.
” To choke “
Since the beginning of the demonstrations, internet connections have been slowed down.
“Since Wednesday evening, it is also no longer possible to access Instagram, by decision of the authorities. Access to WhatsApp is also disrupted,” according to the Fars news agency. This measure was taken because of “the actions carried out via these social networks by counter-revolutionaries against national security”.
Instagram and WhatsApp were the most used apps in Iran since platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and Tiktok were blocked in recent years. In addition, internet access is largely filtered or restricted by authorities.
IHR said on Twitter that internet access was completely cut off in the northern city of Tabriz.
UN human rights experts have ruled that such “disturbances are usually part of efforts to stifle free speech and limit protests”.
During the protests in several provinces of Iran, demonstrators clashed with security forces, torched police vehicles and chanted anti-government slogans, according to media and activists.
Police responded with tear gas and arrested an unknown number of people, according to Iranian media.
Authorities on Thursday arrested two female photographers, Niloufar Hamedi, of the reformist newspaper Shargh, and Yalda Moayeri, who works for the local press, as well as reform activist Mohammad-Réza Jalaïpour, local media reported.
Iran International, a London-based television station, said free speech campaigner Hossein Ronaghi was arrested while giving him an interview.
Pro-veil demonstration on Friday
According to activists, clashes broke out on Wednesday evening in Mashhad (north-east) demonstrators and security forces who opened fire. In Isfahan (center), protesters tore down a banner showing Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The most viral images on social networks are those where we see women setting fire to their headscarves.
“No to the headscarf, no to the turban, yes to freedom and equality!” “, shouted demonstrators in Tehran, their slogans having been taken up in solidarity in New York or Istanbul.
According to Azadeh Kian, professor of sociology at Paris Cité University and specialist in Iran, “what is unprecedented in these demonstrations is that we find women at the forefront”.
Demonstrations in favor of the wearing of the veil are to take place on Friday at the call of a government organization across Iran, in particular in front of the University of Tehran after the weekly Muslim prayer, according to the official agency Irna.
The announcement of the death of the young Iranian aroused strong international condemnation: from the UN, the United States, France, the United Kingdom in particular. “We stand with the courageous citizens and courageous women of Iran,” US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday from the UN rostrum.
(Provence): #Biden supports “courageous women” by #IranTehran suppresses demonstrations: United Nations (United States) – At the UN podium on Wednesday, United States President Joe Biden said he was in solidarity with the.. https://t.co/ZlV9ngWLTp pic.twitter.com/gOhcDw8YP2
— Titrespresse.com (@titrespresse) September 21, 2022
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday announced economic sanctions targeting Iranian vice police and several security officials for “violence against protesters”, as well as the fate of Mahsa Amini.
The protests of the past few days are among the largest in Iran since those of November 2019, triggered by rising gasoline prices, in the midst of an economic crisis. A hundred cities had been affected by a protest, severely repressed. The official death toll is 230, more than 300 according to Amnesty International.