Internet services have suffered disruptions in parts of Iran, according to BBC reports. This gives credibility to the news that the internet is being cut off ahead of anti-government protests on Thursday 26th December 2019.
BBC Persian audiences reported outages, while internet monitoring service, NetBlocks confirmed a drop in usage via their twitter handle in the early hours of today.
Confirmed: Evidence of mobile internet disruption in parts of #Iran beginning ~6:30 a.m. (03:00 UTC); real-time network data show two distinct drops in connectivity this morning amid reports of regional outages; incident ongoing 📉 #Internet4Iran
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) December 25, 2019
Iranian news agency Llna, however, quoted an unnamed official as saying the action had been officially ordered.
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These disruptions come amid calls for demonstrations in memory of those killed in protests fuelled by price rises last month.
Amnesty International says at least 304 people lost their lives. Thousands were also arrested during a days-long crackdown by security forces. Reuters news agency puts the death toll at about 1,500. This is based on information from anonymous interior ministry officials.
Protests over fuel price increase precede internet disruptions
The protests had begun across Iran on 15th November 2019 after the government announced that the price of petrol would rise by 50% to 15,000 rials a litre ($0.12; £0.09 at the unofficial market exchange rate). Also, drivers can only purchase just 60 litres every month before the price rose to 30,000 rials.
With the escalation of the protests, there was almost complete shut down of access to the internet. Also, mobile phone footage reaching the outside world appears to show security forces shooting at unarmed demonstrators.
The decision met with widespread anger and calls for more protests. Iran’s economy is already also ailing as a result of US sanctions reinstated last year after President Donald Trump abandoned a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran.
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