Iran blocked internet access to the capital as protests against Amini grew. Iran

Iran has shut down the internet in Tehran and parts of Kurdistan, and Instagram and . have blocked access to platforms such as WhatsAppIn an effort to curb the growing protest movement, which has relied on social media to document disagreements.

The protests, which began on 16 September following the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in police custody, are showing no signs of calming down. On Thursday, protesters torched police stations and vehicles in several cities.

This comes as anti-government protests spread through cyberspace, with videos of women burning their hijabs going viral. Other women have been posting emotional videos in which they got his hair cut in protest Under the hashtag #Mahsa_Amini.

Mahsa was amini Captured on 16 September For allegedly wearing a hijab headscarf in an “inappropriate” way. Activists said the woman, whose Kurdish first name is Zina, had suffered a fatal blow to the head, a claim denied by officials, who have announced an investigation. Police say she died of natural causes, but her family suspects she was beaten up and tortured.

In response to his death, the US on Thursday blacklisted Iran’s ethics police over its sanctions.

The US Treasury said the ethics police were “responsible” for Amini’s death as it announced sanctions “for abuse and violence against Iranian women and violations of the rights of peaceful Iranian protesters”.

By Wednesday street rallies had spread to 15 cities, police used tear gas and made arrests to disperse a crowd of 1,000 people, Iranian state media reported.

In southern Iran, video footage purportedly from Wednesday shows protesters setting fire to a giant photograph on the side of a building of General Qasem Soleimani, the iconic Revolutionary Guards commander who died in the 2020 US attack in Iraq Had gone.

The official Irna news agency said protesters pelted stones at security forces, torched police vehicles and coaches and raised anti-government slogans.

On Thursday, Iranian media said three militiamen “mobilized to deal with the rioters” had been stabbed or shot in the north-west of Tabriz, the central city of Qazvin in the country’s northeast and Mashhad.

A fourth member of security forces was killed in the southern city of Shiraz, Iranian news agencies reported after a demonstrator was stabbed to death in Qazvin, killing six demonstrators already announced by authorities.

Iranian officials have denied any involvement in the deaths of the protesters.

Protesters flood a street in Tehran.
Protesters flood a street in Tehran. Photo: EPA

Amnesty International said it had recorded the deaths of eight people – six men, a woman and a child – after four were shot at close range with metal shrapnel by security forces.

The protests in Iran are the most severe since the unrest over a fuel price hike in November 2019.

“Internet shutdowns should be understood as an extension of violence and repression taking place in physical space,” said Azadeh Akbari, a researcher in cyber surveillance at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. “Social media exists to mobilize protesters, not only to coordinate gatherings but also to increase acts of resistance.

“You see a woman without a hijab standing in front of the anti-militancy police, who is very courageous. If a video of this comes to the fore, then suddenly not just one person is doing this, women from all cities are doing the same.”

“Women, life, liberty”, words that could be heard at Amini’s funeral, have been repeated by protesters across the country, including one Video showing young women wearing hijabs While male protesters fight with security forces. The video has been viewed over 30,000 times on Twitter.

A woman cuts her ponytail in front of the Iranian Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey
A woman cuts her ponytail in front of the Iranian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. Anger has spread to cities around the world because of social media. Photograph: Erdem ahin/EPA

In a separate video, An Iranian woman sings a hymn to fallen youth as she cuts her hair with household scissorsWhich has been viewed more than 60,000 times.

,[The videos] One hundred percent valuable,” a young Twitter user from Iran told the Guardian, adding that while the protests had not reached her hometown, she was able to participate in opposition activity online. “I am saddened that my compatriots in other parts of Iran have come out on the streets fighting against this regime for all our rights. And I can’t do anything but share information online.”

He said that videos showing police brutality towards protesters are prompting people in different cities to take action.

“It is very difficult for the regime to control the incoming video. Not many people post them on social media but circulate them in WhatsApp groups etc. Demonstrations are happening simultaneously in cyberspace and physical space. ,

Social media has long been a major tool for anti-regime activities, as public places are closely monitored by security forces. “Platforms like Instagram became virtual streets where we could gather to protest, because it was not possible to do so in real life,” said Shaghyegh Norozi, an Iranian campaigner against gender-based violence living in exile in Spain. .

Norouzi said that while she was able to get in touch with activists in Tehran, she feared future internet blackouts and what they might mean for workers’ safety.

“During the last protest [2017-2019]The government shut down the internet for a day or so. During that time, the protesters were killed and arrested,” she said. “The protesters are also using the internet to organize themselves. They can call each other and say when they are in danger or warn each other.”

Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps called on the judiciary to prosecute “those who spread false news and rumours,” in a statement published on Thursday.

Amini’s death came amid government action on women’s rights. On August 15, the staunch President of Iran, Ibrahim Raisisigned a decree that, among other measures, increased penalties for women posting anti-hijab content online.

Speaking to some Western journalists on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Raisi said the circumstances of Amini’s death were being investigated.

He said the initial indications of the investigation show that there was no assault or violence that led to his death. “All signs point to a heart attack or brain stroke,” he said, but he stressed that “this is not a final determination”.

He said police violence has also led to hundreds of deaths in the US and UK.

Akbari said that while targeting women’s rights, the Iranian government is tightening its cyber-governance. He fears that the continued Internet blackout could be used to facilitate the expansion of the Iranian national Internet, which is cut off from the rest of the world.

“This is a very dangerous plan, which will completely cut Iran off the global Internet in the near future,” she said. “This will allow governance to police in physical space as well as cyberspace and develop a comprehensive machinery of control.”

Additional reporting by Patrick Wintour in New York

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