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Stop suppressing the population: authorities in Iran must #KeepItOn

Access Now is outraged by the brutal death in police custody of 22 year-old Mahsa (Jhina) Amini, and subsequent violent — and lethal — crackdown on protests and protesters including escalating internet shutdowns across the country. Read the #KeepItOn coalition’s joint statement

Citing arbitrary “national security” reasons, and following the uproar around the death of Mahsa Amini who was detained by the so-called “morality police” for allegedly breaking hijab rules, authorities have systematically disconnected people from social media platforms, and now from internet access entirely.

“Iran’s go-to move is to block internet access,” said Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now. “But history has shown us over and over that cutting people off when they need a platform for expression most only causes more harm. Authorities in Iran must reinstate full internet access across the country.”

When people took to the streets on September 16, authorities immediately reacted by cutting off mobile data, and reportedly blocking Instagram and WhatsApp in Saqqez, Kurdistan Province, where Mahsa Amini is from. As protests expanded across Iran, authorities intensified the mobile internet shutdowns nationwide, then shut down the internet across Iran, including in the capital, Tehran. At least nine people have been killed since the protests erupted.

“People in Iran are angry, and blocking the internet won’t silence them,” said Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now. “Instead of investigating the heinous death of Mahsa Amini, the Iranian regime is dialing up its repression — seeking to conceal its systematic human rights abuses against its own people.”

Iran has a long history of repression and human rights abuses including internet blocking, and this week’s internet shutdown is the third one authorities have implemented in the last year.