The last time the Internet was cut off in Iran, more than 1,500 people were killed. Thousands were detained and tortured. They still are. When Internet is down, crime has begun – it has become a tradition in the “sacred system.”
Today, Sistan-Baluchestan is facing widespread disconnection and disruptions on the Internet and telecommunications networks.
Contrary to some reports, however, disruptions and disconnections did not start from Wednesday, February 24, but from the very first day of the killings at Shamsar checkpoint, from the moment of the massacre, on Monday, February 22, in the city of Saravan by IRGC border guards, aka Mersad. The Baluch Activists Campaign on Tuesday, February 23, reported internet disruptions in Saravan at the same time of reports on rallies and mass protests against the killing of fuel carriers in front of the Saravan city governor’s office, which led to police firing on people and seizing of the city governor’s building by Saravanis:
Therefore, according to this report, as well as other media reports and social media users, disruptions in the communication network and Internet began on Monday, February 22, in the center of unrest, Saravan. After release of photos and videos showing oppressive forces’ violence and firing on protesters, spark of people’s wrath and scenes of IRGC agents running away from angry protesters, setting fire to their vehicles and fall of governor’s office, internet was shut down completely in Saravan. The internet outage “across the province” was also confirmed on Wednesday evening by Mohammad Hadi Mar’ashi, the deputy governor in security affairs. In a blatant contradiction, the security official, in his first sentence, stated “the security of the province is in good condition.” In another sentence, he announced removal of “Internet disruptions in the province” is subject to stabilization of security conditions in the province!
Reporters Without Borders announced complete Internet outage in Sistan-Baluchestan province from Wednesday, February 24, and warned against violence and repression of civilians by the regime’s oppressive forces in silence and away from witnesses, yesterday:
At the same time as cessation of citizens’ communication with the outside world, users shared their observations from movement of special anti-riot forces and deployment of repressive equipment and forces to Sistan-Baluchestan province on social media:
Reports from citizens and civil activists indicate the fact that despite intense security atmosphere in the cities and influx of repressive elements of IRGC and police, protests in Sistan-Baluchestan have not subsided, but have intensified and spread from Saravan to other cities of the province. Sarjangal in Kurin district of Zahedan was one of the first points of widespread protests against the killing of fuel traders in Saravan:
Yesterday, February 26, 2021, Baluch Activists Campaign reported continuation of protests in Iranshahr, Saravan, Soran, Zahedan and Khash.
In Pomp village, Jazmourian district of South Rudbar, police opened fire on protesters, injuring a number of civilians:
Last night in Asadabad, Iranshahr, people set fire to tires, blocked the city’s transportation routes, and disrupted the traffic of repressive vehicles and movement of police:
Reporting is difficult when there is no communication channel. However, there have been sporadic reports by civic activists and independent news sources about the intense security presence in the province.
Large numbers of citizens have been detained in areas such as Kurin and Shouru. Some were injured and arrested in hospitals while being beaten. The identities of some of them have been verified. The report on one of these cases reads: “First, Omar, who was wounded, was taken to the hospital, and then security forces, after identifying him and those who took him to the hospital, pursued and arrested him at his home in the Shouru.”
By examining these events, we can now paint a picture of how the government has dealt with the protests, which consists of four main elements: crime (killings at Shamsar Saravan checkpoint), blackout (internet outage), repression, and widespread detention.
Although this trend bears a striking resemblance to what happened during the nationwide protests in November 2019, the regime has also made minor changes to the “tradition of repression” during this period. The system does not wait for the protests to spread in order to cut off Internet and other means of communication. It cuts off Internet preemptively:
The Islamic Republic has turned Internet shut down into a kind of “stigma” in the collective memory of us Iranians – stigma in the sense that corresponds to the marks left on Jesus’ body by the Crucifixion, and then impressed by divine favor on the bodies of saints. Wherever in this land that loses its internet, blood flows from it.
Translation of this post by Sahar.