DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ( Associated Press) – Iran blocked internet access to the outside world as angry protesters rallied over the collapse of a tower in southwestern Iran that killed at least 34 people, experts said Tuesday. Said that the country kept on increasing resentment and sorrow.
The disruption has put the southwestern province in digital isolation, making it difficult for journalists to authenticate incidents on the ground and for activists to share footage and organize protests.
This is a tactic the Iranian government has employed time and again. Rights activists say that in times of unrest, in a country where radio and television stations are already state-controlled and journalists are at risk of arrest.
Amir Rashidi, a researcher with the Miyan group that focuses on digital security in the Middle East, said internet interference in oil-rich Khuzestan province began in early May, weeks before the deadly collapse. The province, home to an ethnic Arab population that has long been accused of discrimination, was a flashpoint in protests against the sinking economy and skyrocketing prices of food staples.,
The disruption in the area intensified after the Metropole building collapsed last week, according to data shared by the Miyan group.
The disaster ignited widespread anger in Abadan, where residents accused of government negligence gathered at the site of the collapse at night to raise slogans against the Islamic Republic. Videos of the protest have circulated widely online, showing some officers firing tear gas shells at protesters.
Footage analyzed by The Associated Press is consistent with known features of Abadan, about 660 kilometers (410 mi) southwest of the capital Tehran. The number of casualties and arrests is unclear.
In response to the protests, Iranian authorities have at times shut down the Internet altogether and at other times allowed only tightly controlled use of the domestic intranet, the Miyan group reported.
Mahsa Alimardani, a senior researcher at Article 19, an international organization fighting censorship, said during the day, authorities also restricted bandwidths that make it very difficult for people to share large files, such as That video, without leaving Abadan entirely.
Last Friday, when a huge crowd took to the streets to raise slogans against the top officials, a sort of digital barricade climbed between Iran and the world, the data showed. Only certain government-approved national websites can stream the content, but websites located overseas cannot.
“There has been a pattern that we’ve seen when it gets dark where Google isn’t working but the Supreme Leader’s website is working well,” Rashidi said.
The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, rescue workers pulled out another body from the rubble on Tuesday, raising the death toll to 34, amid fears that more people may be trapped in the ruins. The official IRNA news agency reported that five of the victims were school children. Another 37 people were injured in the accident, of whom two are still hospitalized.
Officials have blamed shoddy construction practices, loose regulation and deep corruption for the building’s structural failure, raising questions about the safety of similar towers in the earthquake-prone country. Officials said they evacuated residents from buildings near the disaster site for fear of structural damage.
The mounting political and economic pressure comes as talks with world powers to restore Tehran’s broken nuclear deal have come to a standstill. Hostilities have intensified as Iran has pushed its nuclear program far beyond the limits of the nuclear deal and last week seized two Greek tankers on a major oil route. through the Persian Gulf.
In a sign of those escalating tensions, Iran’s foreign ministry sharply criticized the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday over its quarterly report released a day earlier on Iran’s nuclear program.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh slammed the report’s findings that Iran’s highly enriched uranium stockpile had increased 18-fold since the 2015 nuclear deal as “not fair and balanced”.
The UN nuclear watchdog also said Iran had still failed to explain traces of uranium particles that IAEA inspectors found at previously undisclosed sites in the country – despite a recent push for a proposal by June A long sore point between Iran and the agency.,
Khatibzadeh said the agency’s statements “do not reflect the reality of the talks between Iran and the agency.”
“The agency should be vigilant and not destroy the path we walked,” he told reporters in Tehran.