After shutting down the internet for the entire country this week, the Iranian regime began a brutal crackdown on protesters which is estimated to have claimed at least 100 lives. Here’s what internet connectivity has looked like in Iran this week:
Update: 136 hours after #Iran implemented a near-total internet shutdown, connectivity to the world remains low at 15% of normal levels📉
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) November 22, 2019
The death toll estimate comes from Amnesty International. Of course the regime denies those claims but the NY Times reported today that hospitals are so crowded with injured protesters that all elective surgeries have been canceled:
Doctors reported that hospitals were overfilled with people injured in the protests. They also said the Health Ministry had ordered all hospitals in Tehran and other cities to cancel elective surgeries because of the influx of emergency cases.
Iran’s student union said plainclothes agents of the pro-government Basij militia, hiding inside ambulances to evade restrictions on entering campuses, had seized more than 50 students at Tehran University after protests there.
The government militias have also been going to the hospitals to look for injured protesters. Protest leaders are expected to get the death penalty if captured.
Despite the internet shutdown, some messages and video clips have gotten out. In this clip you can see people running from government thugs on motorcycles while shots are being fired. This scene looks remarkably like scenes in Venezuela a few years ago when colectivos on motorcycles would harass and threaten protesters:
Contacted on a landline, one Iranian protester said “They’re suppressing us. They’re killing us and now they’ve shut down the internet.”
All of this started over a decision by the regime to increase gasoline prices by about 50 percent overnight. The Washington Post spoke to some inside Iran who said the impact of that decision has already been substantial:
In Tehran, residents reported a sharp increase in bread prices.
“The real impact of all of this is still on its way,” said Sara, 30, a marketing specialist in Tehran. She also declined to provide her full name for fear of reprisal by the government.
“I could already visibly see the decline in people’s standard of living, on the buses and on the subway,” she said. “I cannot fathom what might happen next.”
So even if the brutal crackdown works to silence people in the short term, in the medium term they are still feeling the effects of this with no one to blame for that but the regime:
“Iran is essentially a welfare state. In return for supplying Iranians with cheap energy, food and welfare, the government has taken over the economy. It is the grocery store, the gas station, the hospital, the airline, the bakery,” said Ali Dadpay, an associate professor of finance and expert on Iran’s economy at the University of Dallas.
No wonder what’s happening looks a lot like Venezuela. It’s the same system with a religious overlay.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that while President Trump often sounds a bit too chummy with foreign dictators that’s not the case with Iran. Yesterday he put out this tweet which is just about perfect: