WhatsApp and Instagram have been restricted in Iran after the death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini, reports Engadget.
Capital city Tehran was the first area to be affected by the restrictions, which then extended to the western Kurdistan province on September 19. According to NetBlocks (via a separate Engadget report), the current restrictions are the most severe since 2019, when Iran shut down all internet access in response to fuel-related protests.
Here is a tweet from NBC News Correspondent and Bureau Chief, Ali Arouzi about the protests that came after Amini’s death:
Massive protests continue across Iran this evening, they seem to be getting bigger with each passing day. As the demonstrations grow the internet bandwidth shrinks. #instagram has been blocked & #WhatsApp is struggling. pic.twitter.com/r2TDPDok68
— Ali Arouzi (@aliarouzi) September 21, 2022
The restriction of WhatsApp and Instagram, however, did not stop the world from peeking into the incident. That’s because with other social media platforms still active, news like that of Amini’s death can still spread. This resulted in the collective opinions of the masses only adding fuel to the fire, thus making the issue harder to resolve- as is the outcry for the death of Mahsa Amini and how she was allegedly mistreated by the Iranian morality police.
There are videos on Twitter showing women waving their hijabs in the air while shouting “death to the dictator” in solidarity, all while knowing that removing their hijab is a punishable crime in the country.
To add salt to the wound, several recorded instances of police brutality in Iran are also surfacing on all the social media platforms rendering their effort to subdue the uproar useless. This caused people from other countries to speak out instead.
There have been reports of at least seven deaths since the protests began after Mahsa Amini’s death, as per the BBC.
Who is Mahsa Amini, and What Happened to Her?
Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old woman from the western city of Saqqez in Iran’s Kurdistan province who visited Tehran with her family. Things started to go awry when the Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrol) reportedly decided to detain her for breaking Iranian Law, which requires her to cover her hair and limbs.
Witnesses have claimed that Mahsa was beaten while being transported to the detention center. This is contradictory to the official statement from authorities, who said that she had suffered a heart problem while in custody, prompting them to seek medical attention. It was, however, in vain. The 22-year-old fell into a coma and died three days later.
Her parents claimed that she was in perfect health before being detained, which added to the controversy of the young woman’s death.
Responses to the Incident
The human rights organization Amnesty International released a statement saying: “The circumstances leading to the suspicious death in custody of 22-year-old young woman Mahsa Amini, which include allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in custody, must be criminally investigated.”
Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi has vowed to investigate the incident, asking Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi to look at it with urgency.