The Iranian regime disrupted internet service across much of its territory on Monday, according to a report from the NetBlocks internet monitor. Human rights groups are raising alarms that communications are being disrupted as part of the government’s efforts to stamp out resistance in areas with large Kurdish populations.
The protests have persisted through recent weeks following the September death of Mahsa Amini, 22, an Iranian Kurdish woman. She perished in the custody of the regime’s morality police who have been most ruthless in the nation’s western provinces where most of Iran’s 10 million Kurdish residents live.
⚠️ Confirmed: Network traffic data show a major disruption to internet service in #Iran as mobile internet is cut off for many users; the incident comes amid a wave of new protests over the death of #MahsaAmini and reports of casualties 📵
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) November 21, 2022
NetBlocks monitors internet access around the globe. The organization posted a tweet claiming that mobile internet access was cut off in many predominantly Kurdish regions.
Protestors shared a number of videos on social media on Monday showing crowds of people fleeing from Iranian security forces firing live rounds. The largely Kurdish city of Javanrud was shown in clips depicting people taking cover from small arms fire. One video showed protestors tending to an injured man and attempting to retrieve a dead colleague from the street.
Another video was shared by the Kurdish rights group Hengaw which showed state security forces entering the Kurdish cities of Mahabad and Bukan in armored vehicles, trucks, police cars, and motorcycles.
The Iran Human Rights organization has reported that at least 326 people have been killed during the protests sparked by the killing of Amini. At least 72 people have been killed by Iranian security forces in the last week alone.
In addition to the on-the-ground police presence in Kurdish areas, the government has also launched a number of missile and drone strikes against Kurdish opposition groups in neighboring Iraq.
UN Human Rights Chief Volker Turk spoke in advance of a special session of the UN Human Rights Council last week, calling the attacks on Kurdish civilians “critical” and lamented the “hardening of the response by security forces.”