Sep 24, 2022 - World

Iran says internet crackdown will continue amid protests over Mahsa Amini's death

Protesters hold signs of Iranian woman killed by police

Women hold up signs depicting the image of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in the custody of Iranian authorities. Photo: Safin Hamed/AFP via Getty Images

Iranian officials said they will continue restricting internet access until growing protests cease over the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman in police custody this month, CNN reports.

Driving the news: Thousands have poured into the streets across the Islamic Republic after the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating a religious law that mandates women to wear a headscarf.

  • Iranian officials have said Amini died of a heart attack, not mistreatment at the hands of police, but her family has said they are skeptical of that claim.
  • Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has ordered an investigation into Amini's death. The United Nations has also called for a probe, UPI reports.

State of play: The government has limited access to platforms like Whatsapp and Instagram and internet service in parts of Iran's Kurdistan province, according to NetBlocks, a watchdog that monitors internet access worldwide.

  • The U.S. Treasury said Friday it would allow tech companies to expand internet access in Iran amid the crackdown.
  • The move could give protesters in the country the ability to circumvent the Iranian government's surveillance and censorship efforts and disseminate footage of authorities committing acts of violence against protesters.

The big picture: Dozens of protests have broken out across the country in the days since Amini's death, with demonstrators calling for greater freedoms and more rights for women.

  • As of Friday, at least 30 people have died in the protests, according to the watchdog group Amnesty International. Iranian state media reported that 35 had died, per CNN.
  • Iranian officials have denied that security forces have killed protesters, Reuters reported.

What they're saying: “The rising death toll is an alarming indication of just how ruthless the authorities’ assault on human life has been under the darkness of the internet shutdown,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director.

  • “There is no such thing as 'an impartial investigation' within Iran. UN member states must go beyond toothless statements, hear the cries for justice from victims and human rights defenders in Iran and urgently set up an independent UN investigative mechanism.”
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