Iran suffers ‘major internet disruption’ as protests loom

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran suffered a “major outage” of internet service on Wednesday amid calls for further protests weeks after the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of the country’s vice squad, the country’s vice police said. said an advocacy group.
Protests around Mahsa’s death Amini have become one of the biggest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the 2009 green movement protests in the country.
Among the demonstrators were oil workers, high school students and women who marched without their compulsory headscarves or hijabs.
Calls for protests from midday Wednesday led to a massive deployment of riot police and plainclothes agents across Tehran, witnesses said.
They also described disruptions affecting their mobile internet services.
NetBlocksan advocacy group, said internet traffic in Iran had dropped about 25% from peak, even during a workday when students were in class across the country.
“The incident is likely to further limit the free flow of information amid the protests,” NetBlocks said.
The Iranian government insists Amini was not abused, but her family say her body showed bruises and other signs of beatings after she was arrested for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
Later videos showed security forces beating and shoving protesters, including women who ripped off their hijabs.
It remains unclear how many people have been killed or arrested in the protests so far.
An Oslo-based group, Iran Human Rights, estimated on Wednesday that at least 201 people were killed.
This includes around 90 people killed by security forces in the eastern Iranian city of Zahedan during protests against a police officer accused of rape in a separate case.
Iranian authorities have described the Zahedan violence as involving anonymous separatists, without providing details or evidence.
Numerous videos have emerged of riot police firing into crowds, some likely using live fire.
Apparently feeling public pressure, Iran’s police chief, General Hossein Ashtari, claimed on state television on Wednesday without providing evidence that “counter-revolutionary groups abroad” were wearing police uniforms and firing into the crowd. He claimed that his officers had arrested some of these people.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Minister of Education Yousof Nouri offered the first confirmation that school-age children had been arrested amid the protests.
He declined to give a figure for those arrests, the pro-reform newspaper Shargh reported, saying only that those detained had been placed “in a psychiatric centre”, not in prison.


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