Internet shut down as deadly protests grip major Iran cities
Days of protests in Iran over rising fuel prices and a subsequent government crackdown have killed at least 106 people across the Islamic Republic, Amnesty International said on Tuesday, citing "credible reports."
The protests put renewed pressure on Iran’s government as it struggles to overcome the U.S. sanctions strangling the country after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Though largely peaceful, demonstrations devolved into violence in several instances, with online videos purporting to show police officers firing tear gas at protesters and mobs setting fires. While representing a political risk for President Hassan Rouhani ahead of forthcoming February parliamentary elections, it also shows the widespread anger among Iran’s 80 million people who have seen their savings evaporate amid scarce jobs and the national Rial currency’s collapse.
The demonstrations took place in over a dozen cities in the hours following Rouhani’s decision early last Friday to cut gasoline subsidies to fund handouts for Iran’s poor. Gasoline in the country still remains among the cheapest in the world, with the new prices jumping up to a minimum of 15,000 rials per liter of gas — 50% up from the day before. That’s 13 cents a liter, or about 50 cents a gallon. By comparison, a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. costs $2.60.
Saturday morning, the start of the Iranian workweek, saw protesters stop cars on major roadways across the capital, Tehran among other cities.
Iranian internet access meanwhile saw major disruptions and outages on Friday night and well into Saturday, according to the group NetBlocks, which monitors worldwide internet access.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday took to Twitter to criticise the internet shutdown in Iran.