Fearing the potential for renewed protests and violent clashes with police, Iran has again blocked internet and mobile access to broad section of the country on Wednesday.
This as several funerals will be held over the coming days for protesters killed last month amid a severe government crackdown, which also witness an unprecedented nationwide internet blockage which lasted for a week or more in some provinces.
Citing Iranian state media, Bloomberg reports, “The mourning services are scheduled to begin on Thursday. The independent Shargh newspaper said five unidentified provinces will be subject to the blackout, while ILNA said internet users in those areas will have access to a limited number of state-approved Iran websites and applications.”
Government authorities are reportedly acting in response to relatives of some among the killed who have posted to social media calling for renewed protests to be held on Thursday in conjunction with ceremonies commemorating the victims (various estimates put those killed from the November protests ranging from 200 to over 300, with the US State Dept. claiming multiple times that number).
The US as well as various human rights organizations have accused Tehran authorities of quelling protests — initially sparked by a huge gas price hike when subsidies were slashed — with live ammunition and other brutal tactics.
Thus it appears the government is making a move to prevent large-scale protests before they gain momentum. State-run ILNA said of the mobile and internet blockage: “According to this source, it is possible that more provinces will be affected by the shutdown of mobile international connectivity,” after it appeared to spread on Wednesday.
Confirmed: Evidence of mobile internet disruption in parts of #Iran beginning ~6:30 a.m. (03:00 UTC); real-time network data show two distinct drops in connectivity this morning amid reports of regional outages; incident ongoing 📉 #Internet4Iran
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) December 25, 2019
And internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said, according to Reuters: “Confirmed: Evidence of mobile internet disruption in parts of #Iran …real-time network data show two distinct drops in connectivity this morning amid reports of regional outages; incident ongoing.”
Washington has condemned such attempts to dramatically restrict communications; however, Iran’s leadership has said it is taking efforts to thwart external US-Saudi-Israeli regime change efforts to hijack and guide the protests.