According to Netblocks, an internet blockage observatory, the shutdown started at 6:45 PM on Saturday 16, just 24 hours after the protests against the rise in petrol prices spread across the country. According to the same source, only seven per cent of normal internet connectivity was available in Iran.
A source in the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said that “the decision to shut down the internet for at least 24 hours was initiated by the High Council for Security and conveyed to all operators in the country”, Iran’s IRNA news agency reported.
Protests began a few hours after the Top Economic Council of the Iranian regime announced it was increasing the petrol price by up to 50 per cent arguing that it will free up money to help low-income families in Iran.
The protests spread quickly in some of the major cities, including the capital Tehran. According to unions on the ground, people refrained from chanting radical political slogans and protested only against the gas price increase.
Protests, peaceful at first, turned violent in some cities. According to the state news agency IRNA, protesters attacked a fuel storage warehouse and tried to burn it out in the central city of Sirjan.
The Global Union Federations reported that street demonstrations have taken place across 66 cities, 24 provinces and that at least 20 people have been killed in the clashes, most of them in the Ahwaz and Kurdistan regions. Two minors were among the victims.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Internet shutdowns are increasingly becoming a tool for governments all over the world to silence media reporting and restricting the fundamental right of citizens to have free access to information. The IFJ reported that 30 countries have closed media and blocked internet access so far in 2019, evidencing the global trend to control citizens’ media and internet access. We urge the Iranian authorities to lift the blockade and stop the repression against the demonstrators“.