Iran Cuts Internet, Calls Out Security in Protests

  • Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.
  • According to NetBlocks, the Internet traffic monitoring agency, the internet was completely shut down in Khuzestan.
  • The IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency reported the arrest of several people in Khorasan Razavi by the IRGC.

Eight months after the November demonstrations, protesters took to the streets again in various cities across Iran. Anti-government demonstrations began in the afternoon of Thursday, in the city of Behbahan, in Khuzestan province. Protesters chanted slogans against Ali Khamenei and other government leaders.

The 2019–2020 Iranian protests were a series of nationwide civil protests in Iran, initially caused by a 50%–300% increase in fuel prices, and (in some areas) leading to calls for the overthrow of the government in Iran and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. As many as 1,500 Iranian protesters were killed.

The main slogans of the protesters were “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon’s sacrifice for Iran,” “Iranians die,” and “do not be afraid, do not be afraid, we are all together.” Some users in virtual networks have stated that the main motive for this rally and demonstration is the poor economic situation, and the issuance of death sentences for the protesters from November.

Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. The security atmosphere has prevailed in many metropolises of Iranian cities.

In an interview with IRNA on Friday, Col. Mohammad Azizi, Behbahan’s police chief, attributed the protests in the city to a “call by a small number of people” who “gathered in Bank Melli Square on Thursday at 9 pm to protest the economic situation.”

He claimed that the police initially intended to “disperse these people through negotiations, but not only did they not disperse, but they also chanted norm-breaking slogans, which is why the police dispersed them firmly.”

Azizi did not elaborate further on the “strength” of the police, adding, “fortunately, the measures taken did not cause any financial or human damage to the rally, and the protesters were taken to their homes.” Official news agencies, including the Tasnim news agency affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported the arrest of a number of protesters.

The Behbahan police chief went on to attribute the protests in Behbahan to “dissident individuals and groups,” who “in the current sensitive situation, intend to provoke the people and strike at the system, and certainly want to create tension by inciting the people’s feelings in society.”

The country’s economic situation has deteriorated due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Tough US sanctions, especially banking and oil sanctions, have put the Iranian economy in an unprecedented recession. The dollar reached 24,000 tomans one day before the beginning of these protests.

On the other hand, the issuance of death sentences against protesters, and the arrest of some families of the victims of Aban 98, including the Pouya Bakhtiari family, the protest of retirees, and the arrest of Haft Tappeh workers, all showed signs of widespread discontent in Iran.

In recent days, internet users have criticized government actions and the lack of management of the Coronavirus crisis. Social media has apparently played an important role in organizing the protests, with the Iranian government reacting immediately by cutting and restricting it.

Net Blocks: The internet was cut off in Khuzestan

According to NetBlocks, the Internet traffic monitoring agency, the internet was completely shut down in Khuzestan. Netbloks has published a chart that states that internet access in Khuzestan has been severely restricted since 10:00 PM local time.

Tasnim: Arrest of Several People in Khorasan Razavi and Shiraz

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) (‘Army of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution’ or Sepâh for short) is a branch of Iran’s Armed Forces, founded after the Iranian Revolution on 22 April 1979 by order of Ayatollah Khomeini. The Revolutionary Guards state that their role in protecting the Islamic system is preventing foreign interference as well as coups by the military or “deviant movements.”

In many metropolises of Iran, a security atmosphere has prevailed. Some reports indicate the presence of counterinsurgency agents in the streets of Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz, Urmia, and Rasht.

The IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency reported the arrest of several people in Khorasan Razavi by the IRGC. According to Tasnim, the “Imam Reza Corps” in Khorasan Razavi province has announced in a statement, “and they were arrested.”

Tasnim writes that the records of some of these individuals include actions such as spying on national security, calling for unrest, and trying to disrupt public order through cyberspace.

Such accusations have already been made against the protesters in November 2019. Many were also arrested during the November nationwide protests. Eight months after the protests, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not yet released the exact number of people killed and arrested.

Shiraz Fajr Corps has also announced the arrest of an operational team in this city. In this regard, ISNA news agency reported that the Fajr Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization of Fars Province had announced the identification of “the action team of the hypocritical terrorist organization that had entered Fars Province in order to carry out persecution operations.”

According to this news agency, the members of this team intended to carry out a sabotage operation in one of the areas of Shiraz city. Colonel Jalal Yarmohammadi, Fajr IRGC Deputy Public Relations Officer, said that “the movements of the dissident groups are being closely monitored and legal proceedings are underway regarding the arrested members of this terrorist team.”

There is a lot of doubt about the accuracy of these claims. State-run media often describe protests and opposition as “terrorist groups”, “counter-revolutionaries,” and “foreign affiliates.”

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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