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Internet restricted in Iran as anti-government protests intensify

Protests on the death of a female in police custody in Iran the other day intensified on Wednesday as unrest spread to a large number of cities.

Driving the news headlines: 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 had not been mistreated and that she died of a coronary attack. Her family has expressed doubts over that claim, AP reports.
  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who was simply in NY on Wednesday for the UN General Assembly, has ordered a study into Amini’s death.

The picture as a whole Hengaw, a Kurdish human rights group, said Wednesday seven protesters have already been killed and a huge selection of others injured because the demonstrations began last Friday. Hundreds are also arrested, the group added.

  • Iranian officials have denied reports that protesters have already been killed by security forces, per Reuters. Some officials have claimed without evidence that “foreign agents” are fueling the unrest, based on the NY Times.
  • Demonstrators have needed greater freedoms, with some women burning their headscarves, Reuters reports.

State of play: NetBlocks, a London-based watchdog that monitors access to the internet worldwide, said on Wednesday that Whatsapp and Instagram have been restricted in Iran. Tehran already blocks Facebook, Telegram and Twitter, though many Iranians use VPNs to obtain round the restrictions.

  • NetBlocks also reported “a near-total disruption” to online sites in elements of Iran’s Kurdistan province, where Amini was from, and a “nation-scale shutdown of mobile networks.”
  • Iran has restricted access to the internet during the past to curb anti-government protests.

What they’re saying: President Biden on Wednesday said the U.S. stands “with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran, who at this time are demonstrating to secure their basic rights.” Multiple Europe have also needed a study.

  • Nada Al-Nashif, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said in a statement on Tuesday that Iranian “authorities must stop targeting, harassing, and detaining women who usually do not follow the hijab rules.”
  • Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani accused the U.S. and EU of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs, based on the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency. He called on the U.S. and EU never to use Amini’s death to “politicize and objectify” the problem of human rights in Iran.

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