Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that the regime has squashed the uprising that took place the last few weeks. The protests left 22 people dead and 3,700 arrested.

Remember, people used social media and the internet to tell the world about the protests since Iran doesn’t have a free press and the regime told state media not to report on it. To stop them, the regime shut down the internet. Yes, that helped them cut off access for the world to see the protests, but it also wrecked havoc on those who did not even participate.

Protests End

The protests that began on December have come to an end after the regime arrested 3,700 people and 22 people died. From CNN:

Tehran member of parliament Mahmoud Sadeghi said Tuesday that 3,700 people had been arrested, including 40 to 68 students, in six days of protests that broke out in late December.

He added that “due to the fact that several security organizations had made the arrests, it will take some time to give an accurate count,” according to the Iranian parliament’s news agency.

Apparently Khamenei still believes that outside sources caused the protests because he told the U.S. and Britain and any other nation that supposedly wants to overthrow the regime that “you’ve failed, and you will fail in the future, too.” The man went on a tweetstorm:

The University of Tehran has started to track down its students that authorities have arrested and will try to get them released. From ABC News:

Some university students separately have been arrested even though they haven’t taken part in the demonstrations, said Nassim Papayianni, a London-based researcher on Iran for Amnesty International. She said authorities have described those arrests as “preventative.”

The mass arrests raise questions about those detained receiving legal assistance and proper care while in custody, she said.

“We already know that many of these prisons before these arrests were overcrowded,” Papayianni said. “We know that people would sleep on floors in the winter. … There wouldn’t be even sufficient food.”

Human rights activists believe “that detainees may have been killed by security forces while in custody.”

State-run outlet Aftab News reported that student Sina Ghanbari, 22, died while in custody at the infamous Evin prison. An official said this student committed suicide.

Another official said a student committed suicide in a prison in Arak. But his parents told CHRI that his “body bore an enormous head wound ‘as if he had been hit with an ax.'”

Censorship

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) released a report that showed the Iranian regime “developed an increasingly sophisticated ability to restrict, block, and monitor internet.” This is how officials had the ability to shut down the protesters’ only outlet to the outside world. From Newsweek:

Social media platforms like Instagram and the Telegram messaging app, the main methods of communication protesters used to mobilize other demonstrators to join them on the streets, were blocked during the protests. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and other tools Iranians frequently use to circumvent censorship and access banned platforms like YouTube and Facebook, were also blocked. On December 30, the government blocked all Iranians from the internet for at least a half an hour.

“Internet freedom is under assault in Iran, and the rights of the Iranian people to information access and internet privacy, both integral to the fundamental right of freedom of expression, are being severely violated,” the report notes.

Ironically, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has vocalized his desire for internet freedom. Under him, more Iranians have internet access than they had under other presidents.

I guess that only applies if you don’t rebel against him:

Much of the government’s increased control over internet access is due to the development of a state-controlled National Internet Network (NIN), which has developed rapidly since Rouhani rose to power in 2013. The network’s search engines send users to sites presenting state-sanctioned messages, some of which are falsified propaganda, the CHRI reported. The network’s tools, which include email services and platforms that resemble YouTube and Netflix, allow government authorities to access users’ personal messages and see what content they are searching for online.

By separating domestic web traffic from international traffic, the government can more effectively block people from using the internet without disrupting the websites of banks, universities, and other important institutions at home. Previously, like during street protests in Tehran in 2009, Iran’s government was forced to shut down all internet access if it wanted to stop protesters from communicating.

Thankfully, people have ways to bypass the censorship “by using proxies and VPNs.”

Disrupt Daily Life of Iranians

Unfortunately, blocking the internet caused inconveniences for those who did not protest and their businesses:

A fashion photographer based in Tehran told Newsweek her business has been hit by the crackdown.

“I’m working all the time with social media because I am blogger and fashion photographer, so I use the internet in my everyday life,” Reihane Taravati said. “I had 20 VPNs and none of them worked properly. I can’t access Instagram or my Telegram account. All of my files for work are on Telegram.”

Hhhmmm…while it may appear to the regime that censoring the protests was a good idea, this may come back and bite them.

Tech entrepreneur Milad Nouri claimed that his company lost payments because the shutdown meant they couldn’t talk to their users. Nouri spent three days looking for “a different server to host his mobile app design, which employs 15 people,” and get back to work.

Journalist Maryam Mazrooei uses a ride-hailing app called Snapp, but couldn’t connect because those drivers “calculate the fastest route using Google – one of many foreign services affected by the crackdown – drivers and customers experienced delays and struggled to locate each other.”

The Los Angeles Times detailed even more struggles:

Researchers said the crackdown also put out of work thousands who operate informal shops selling homemade food or clothing through their Telegram and Instagram accounts.

One Telegram channel named “Iran’s Shoe Shop” has more than 40,000 subscribers. The business owner, identified only as Behnam, used his profile picture to try to send a message to Iranian authorities: “I work on Telegram. Don’t block it.”

The younger generation has been helping the older generation find ways to bypass the censorship, including Ali Abdi. He attends Yale University and uses Telegram to keep in touch with his family in Iran. He helped his mom get around the blocks and she was able to find people to help her.

Abdi made an excellent point: “This is not having the effect that that authorities want.”