ICBPS- The Islamic authorities deliberately shut down the internet during mass protests in Sistan and Baluchistan, hiding the true scale of killings by IRGC forces.
The NetBlocks cybersecurity monitoring NGO announced that the Internet was disrupted in southeastern Iran.
⚠️ Confirmed: Significant internet disruption registered in #Iran from ~10:30 pm local time; incident has partial impact observable at nation scale, and follows days of reported disruptions during protests in the southeast; incident ongoing ?
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 27, 2021
The Islamic Republic tightens restrictions on everyday Iranians’ internet access to hide atrocities that happen in Sistan and Baluchistan (known as one of Iran’s most impoverished provinces).
When news of the deadly crackdown began to emerge from Iran’s southeastern areas last week, the Islamic authorities deliberately blocked internet access, hiding the true extent of the horrendous human rights violations that they were carrying out across the areas.
The Iranian Crown Prince, Reza Pahlavi again has come out in support of the Baluch minorities, writing on his Twitter account: “The dictatorship in Iran is attempting to hide its crimes against the people as our compatriots in #Sistan_Baluchistan bravely rise up against the regime. The international community must help Iranians freely access the Internet.”
The dictatorship in Iran is attempting to hide its crimes against the people as our compatriots in #Sistan_Baluchistan bravely rise up against the regime. The international community must help Iranians freely access the Internet.
— Reza Pahlavi (@PahlaviReza) February 28, 2021
On Tuesday February 23, 2021, citizens in southeast Iran, stormed a government building in Baluchistan in protest of the shooting of several cross-border fuel traders by the IRGC forces the day before.
The IRGC closed a border crossing point with Pakistan which prevented the traders to cross with their cars transporting fuel.
The IRGC has threatened the protests victims’ families with arrest and torture to cease their demands for justice.
37 civilians were reportedly shot dead by the Islamic Republic’s IRGC forces in Saravan and dozens were injured. Tanks and machine-guns have been used in the crackdown. A number of protesters were injured by gunfire and tear gas, according to the Baluch Activists Campaign.
The Islamic authorities caused an internet blackout in Saravan, an impoverished city in the very deprived province of Sistan and Baluchistan after videos from the protest started going viral on the social networks.
Videos indicate citizens holding protests in response to killing innocent Baluchs. There were also media evidence of people occupying the government office. A video shows a police car flipped by people and set on fire.
The uprising started after Bluchi fuel traders were fatally shot by the IRGC agents near the Pakistani border.
Previously, The Iranian Crown Prince, Reza Pahlavi has come out in support of the Baluch minorities, writing on his Twitter account: “As Iran Protests continue today in Saravan, the people of #Iran are saying, with one voice, that the Islamic Republic is an illegitimate regime.”
As #IranProtests continue today in #Saravan, the people of #Iran are saying, with one voice, that the Islamic Republic is an illegitimate regime. History has proven that appeasement has only ever emboldened dictators. Repeating that failed policy would betray the Iranian people. pic.twitter.com/tLgcqPHuaS
— Reza Pahlavi (@PahlaviReza) February 23, 2021
Since then, rights groups have called on the government of Iran to immediately restore full internet access to Sistan and Baluchistan.
In Iran, in some deprived regions such as Sistan and Baluchistan province, to survive and make a living, cross-border carriers/traders do not have any other choice than to ship goods and fuel across the border carrying sometimes extremely heavy packages on their own backs. Some other times, when possible, they use horses or pickup trucks to cross the border.
They take serious risk due to climate conditions, falling into rivers or valleys, landmine explosions, and IRGC border guards or sniper’s gunfire. But this is the only way for them to provide for their families.
The Islamic Republic considers these activities as illegal smuggling, and dozens of fuel traders are killed every year by IRGC border guards. Yet, the IRGC backed smugglers ship goods, medicine, and fuel across borders to sell or exchange for goods in neighboring countries.
On February 21, the ICBPS reported that a shipment of around 44 million liters of Iranian Gasoline has secretly arrived at El Palito, Venezuela from Iran aboard handy size tanker Forest.
In its October report, the ICBPS also revealed how IRGC smuggles medicines out of Iran while the people fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Islamic Republic, previously, shut down the internet during nationwide Iran Protests in November 2019, hiding the true scale of unlawful killings by security agents.
The Institute of Capacity Building for Political Studies (ICBPS) is a non-governmental research institute focusing on political studies, international security, and international relations.