Washington is supporting the Iranians. The US Treasury Department announced on Friday, September 23, the lifting of certain bans on trade with Iran, in order to allow technology companies to provide platforms and services allowing access to the Internet, including access has been severely restricted in the country by the authorities. “With these changes, we are helping the people of Iran to be better equipped to counter government efforts to monitor and censor them,” the ministry detailed in its statement, stressing the importance for Iranians to have “access to factual information”. The government of Tehran has blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp after six days of protests sparked by the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman arrested by the morality police. State media said on Thursday that seventeen people had died in the protests. But the toll is likely to be much heavier: Friday, the NGO Iran Human Rights, based in Oslo, reported at least 50 civilians killed. Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In Iran, the repression behind closed doors: “My cousin’s body and face are covered in bruises, but she refuses to tell” Human rights NGOs are particularly concerned about the blocking of Instagram, extremely popular in Iran, which could allow a crackdown “out of sight”, according to Amnesty International. National Internet NetBlocks, a London-based site that monitors internet blockages around the world, described the restrictions as “the toughest” in Iran since the deadly crackdown on protests in November 2019, when the network was virtually completely shut down. cut. The organization says mobile networks have been temporarily suspended and some areas are facing severe access restrictions. Observers have thus noted a blockage in Iranian Kurdistan (north-west), the region of origin of Mahsa Amini, where some of the most violent demonstrations took place. Speaking to Agence France-Presse, Mahsa Alimardani, researcher on Iran for the rights organization Article 19, specified that some people manage to circumvent the restrictions by using virtual private networks. She believes that the authorities could fear the negative effects on the country’s economy in the event of a complete shutdown and that they can also rely on the “national information network”, a kind of national Internet. The restrictions “make it difficult” to publish videos of the protests, but despite everything, “they continue to circulate”, according to her. Among these videos published on the networks are those of women burning their veils, demonstrators tearing down effigies of the leaders of the Islamic Republic, but also of the police firing on the crowd. “The possibility of a bloodbath” During the demonstrations of November 2019, caused by the increase in the price of fuels, the interruption of the Internet had allowed the authorities to repress practically behind closed doors. Amnesty International says 321 people were killed then, stressing that this number only covers proven cases and that the real death toll could be much higher. Also read the editorial: Iran: the regime is repressing, again and again The NGO says it is “very concerned about the disruption of access to the Internet and mobile networks”, and calls on the international community to put pressure quickly so that Tehran ” stop killing and injuring more protesters out of sight. Hadi Ghaemi, the director of CHRI, believes that “the possibility of a bloodbath is now real”. Instagram boss Adam Mosseri shared his concern, while the WhatsApp app stressed it was not the cause of the disruption, adding that the group “would do whatever is in [ses] capacities to maintain the service”. The Signal messaging service confirmed that it is still blocked in Iran and encouraged its users outside the country to use workarounds, via intermediary servers, to allow Iranians to connect. The World with AFP
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