‘Completely blocked’ after 4pm… Using text messages instead of messengers
The authorities cut off the internet to prevent protesters from gathering, but… A direct hit on the livelihood of the poor
(Tehran = Yonhap News) Reporter Lee Seung-min = All the tables in the restaurant were empty without customers, and three or three workers gathered in front of the shop to smoke.
The bright lights of the shops in the center of the city were as usual, but there was no sign of anything except the police and feral cats patrolling the streets.
In the evening of the 29th (local time), the start of the Iranian weekend, Shariati Street in Tehran was completely opposite to the usual crowded streets.
Mohammed (36), who runs a fast food restaurant, said, “There are a few customers during the day, but few during the night.”
Protests have continued every night since the 17th, sparked by the case of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was arrested for not wearing a hijab and died in the police station.
On that night too, protesters gathered in Namak, about 6 km east of Shariati Street.
Security authorities have completely blocked access to WhatsApp and Instagram since the 20th to prevent people from gathering.
Even before the protests in Iran, access to many social media (SNS) such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Telegram was restricted, but WhatsApp and Instagram were available.
However, even this time, access was blocked, and citizens had to change their method of communication to text messages and phone calls, which they had not used in the past.
Najanin, 21, who attends a university in Tehran, said, “Even if I use a VPN (bypass access program), I cannot access SNS.
From 4pm every day, all internet connections except Iran’s internal network are cut off.
Food delivery and taxi applications that use the internal network often fail from now on.
Foreign media are analyzing that the Iranian authorities’ Internet blockade is a measure to prevent protesters from gathering and at the same time prevent the transmission of videos and photos of the scene to the outside.
These Internet blocking measures hit the poor relatively harder.
Taxi driver Mahmoud (34) complained, “I only make about 5 million rials a day (about 22,000 won, based on the market exchange rate), but these days there are no customers, so I just park the car.”
The majority of citizens are reluctant to go out at night or at night because of the occasional small and medium protests.
Citizens shop earlier than usual and rush to go home before nightfall.
A Korean resident in Tehran said, “The number of gatherings with Korean people has decreased a lot,” adding, “It’s an atmosphere of postponing all the promises we made a long time ago.”
Internet control monitoring site Netblocks said Iran currently has the most extensive Internet access restrictions since November 2019.
Such a long protest is rarely seen in Iran, where rallies and demonstrations are strictly controlled.
A recent large-scale protest was an anti-government protest against rising gasoline prices in 2019, when authorities blocked the Internet completely for 12 days.
The police have strengthened checkpoints not only in protest areas, but also in squares and major roads.
President Seyed Ebrahim Raishi announced a harsh response to the protests in a speech to the nation on the 28th.
At around 10 pm on day 12 of the protest, an explosion thought to be a gunshot rang eight times in the center and north of the city.
As the fire died down, a female citizen shouted out of a window from inside the house, “Shame on the police.”
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