Iran Shutdown Monitor

Iran is currently experiencing a near-total internet shutdown. This regularly updated blog documents the blackout, and its effects on ongoing nationwide protests.

Small Media
Nov 19 · 23 min read

Welcome to Filterwatch’s Shutdown Monitor.

Iran is currently experiencing a near-complete internet shutdown that is preventing the vast majority of information from flowing into or out of the country. This shutdown has been imposed by authorities in response to a wave of protests that are sweeping the country, initially sparked by the sudden announcement of a significant increase in petrol prices.

This blog will be updated daily with the latest developments relating to the ongoing shutdown and the ongoing protests. We will hope to highlight some of the most significant reporting being undertaken by journalists and digital rights activists at this time.

We believe that it’s crucial to find ways to end the ongoing internet shutdown in order to allow Iranian citizens and journalists to express themselves freely, and to document and disseminate evidence of ongoing human rights violations against protestors.

We also believe that it is crucial to provide proper context around the political environment in which these current protests are taking place, in order to better understand how and why Iranian authorities are responding to these protests in the way that they do. Therefore, this blog will catalogue both the digital rights violations being imposed on citizens, and the key political events shaping the ongoing protests.

We hope that we do not have to continue this blog for much longer, and that Iranians’ connection to the outside world is restored immediately. However, we are prepared for this shutdown to continue, and will provide daily briefings on any fresh developments.

We are committed to improving the depth and quality of our briefings, and to include as many voices as possible for as long as they are needed. If you have any updates or information that you feel should be included in future updates please email us at contact@smallmedia.org.uk or send us a tweet at @Small_Media.

Our team is also available to work with researchers, journalists, and campaigns committed to supporting the rights of Iranian citizens to express themselves freely, and to access information unimpeded.

We will continue our work until these rights can be fully realised by all Iranian citizens.

In solidarity,

The Small Media Team


We have been reporting on the near-total shutdown of the internet in Iran since the unrest began on Thursday 14 November. Over this past weekend, Iran has moved from a near-total internet shutdown to a partial shutdown situation. In reality, this means that many large cities and mobile operators are still disconnected from both the National Information Network and the global Internet. But the slow and patchy restoration of access has also meant that many human rights campaigners, journalists, and digital rights activists have gained greater, and near-real-time access to events across large parts of Iran.

While internet connectivity in Iran has not returned to pre-shutdown levels (and concerns remain that it may stay this way), we believe the dedicated journalist covering the protests in Iran are now much better equipped to report in real-time on the protests, and on the levels of Internet connectivity. As a result, we are wrapping up our daily coverage of the protests and shutdown in the Shutdown Monitor blog.

We will continue our monthly Filterwatch publications here on Medium, and we would like to this opportunity to encourage you go to filter.watch to sign up to the Filterwatch mailing list, which will keep you in the loop on all of our latest analysis and commentary as it comes in the New Year.

All of this work will be published on our brand new filter.watch platform in January 2020, where all of our publications will be made available in both English and Persian.

One point before we go: monitoring network connectivity has been crucial throughout this shutdown saga, and we extend our thanks and recognition to our friends at Netblocks for their excellent work in documenting this crisis. But at the same time, we would stress that many aspects of Iran’s program of internet localisation cannot be captured or understood solely by focusing on connectivity.

Iran’s policies of promoting domestic messaging apps, its movement towards ‘layered-filtering’ tied to national ID, and a whole host of far-reaching social policies to discourage citizens’ engagement with the global Internet are all crucial elements of Iran’s long-term strategy for managing the threats it perceives as arising from the global Internet. Small Media will continue to document and explain the state’s policy agenda in the coming months, and will highlight the emerging threats yet to come.

As MTN Irancell starts to restore mobile internet access to users, Rightel and MCI subscribers remain largely offline

Source: NetBlocks’ live graph of mobile internet connectivity, 24/11/2019

Mobile internet providers started to move to reconnect users on Sunday, though Netblocks’ data showed significant disparities between different telecoms providers in the pace of reconnection. Whereas MTN Irancell had seemingly reconnected 95% of its users by Sunday evening, Rightel had not yet restored access to a quarter of its own users. Users of the Mobile Communications Company of Iran, meanwhile, remained offline entirely.

However, these statistics of reconnection may not tell a fully accurate story. Although this test shows that MTN Irancell users are broadly able to get online, reports on social media claim that many users are still struggling to access internationally hosted services and websites. It seems that users’ experience of using the internet will remain disrupted to some extent for a while to come.

Shutdown starts to lift across ADSL broadband connections, while 3G and 4G access remains limited nationwide

Netblocks reported that internet connectivity had returned to 64% of normal levels on Saturday, as Iranian ISPs started to bring users’ connections back to life. Users also reported gaining access to international platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp, the fates of which were uncertain in the wake of the past week of protests.

Jahromi makes public statement apologising for inconvenience, but justifying role of national network in mitigating shutdown damages

Iran’s ICT Minister published a video in which apologised for the inconvenience caused by the shutdown, however he did not condemn the decision to impose the blackout. In his statement Jahromi also emphasised the role his Ministry had played in preparing to limit the damages caused by the shutdown. In his statement Jahromi listed a number of services including online payments that he claimed had not been disrupted over the course of the week — a claim that has been disputed by many reports.

Jahromi also claimed that some offices and news rooms had been reconnected to the global internet since Thursday.

The ICT Minister’s statement can be taken as confirmation that the data and service localisation policies implemented by the ICT Ministry over the past six years have been developed in preparation for a full or partial shutdown of the internet in Iran.

As the government reports partial connection to the global internet, connectivity levels remain between 10 to 15%

Source: NetBlocks’ ongoing Iran blog. Follow NetBlock’s real-time live feed here.

Iran’s Health Minister: “hospitals are connected to domestic networks”

Iranian Health Minister Dr. Saeed Namaki said in a conversation with ISNA that “fortunately, our systems are connected to the country’s internal networks, and therefore there have been no disruptions in hospitals and health centres.’’

He added that information about damage caused to hospitals and health centres as a result of the unrest has not yet been obtained, but would be released as soon as it is available.

Iranian embassy in London files complaint against UK-based Persian-language satellite channels

According to IRNA, Iranian Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad filed a complaint in an official letter to Ofcom — the UK’s broadcasting and telecommunications regulatory authority.

According to a tweet by Baeidinejad, the complaint was made against Persian language channels operating from inside the UK such as BBC Persian, Manoto and Iran International for inciting violence against the Iranian government’s institutions.

A tweet from Hamid Baeidinejad, posted on Friday 22 November

Iran’s ICT Minister sanctioned by the US Treasury “in View of the Regime’s Repressive Internet Censorship”

The US Department of the Treasury announced that Iran’s ICT Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi has been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The US Treasury cited Jahromi’s active role in “wide-scale internet censorship” and “…in launching Iran’s National Information Network (NIN), which has enhanced the Iranian government’s ability to monitor, restrict, and completely block internet usage in Iran”. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also tweeted that members of the Iranian regime would be “held accountable”.

Small Media has extensively covered Jahromi’s political activities and his role in advancing the development of Iran’s National Information Network. For more, check out the rest of our coverage on Filterwatch.

UN Special Rapporteurs’ statement expresses alarm at “arrests and reported killings, internet shutdown”

A statement signed by four of the UN’s Special Rapporteurs expressed “grave concerns” about the recent reports of killing and injuries in Iran, and stated that “the authorities may have used excessive force against those participating in the protests”.

The Special Rapporteurs also raised concerns about the internet shutdown, noting: “A country-wide network shutdown of this kind clearly has a political purpose: to suppress the right of Iranians to access information and to communicate at a time of rising protest… Such an illegitimate step deprives Iranians not only of a fundamental freedom but also basic access to essential services”.

They went onto urge the Iranian government reconnect the internet and to keep it connected“… at all times, especially during times of public protests”.

In first Friday prayers since the protests, Ahmad Khatami calls for government to keep internet shutdown in place

Radio Farda reported that Tehran’s Friday Prayer Imam Ahmad Khatami praised the government for implementing the internet shutdown, saying “Please do not unblock the internet! You saw that it teaches people how to commit crimes!”.

Similar calls were made by Mashhad’s Friday Prayer Imam.

Internet shutdown lifted in Hormozgan Province, but remains in place across vast majority of Iran

Iran’s ISNA news agency reported that authorities have started connecting Iran to the global Internet, starting from Hormozgan Province. Data from Netblocks, who launched a live stream of their graph showing the connectivity of the internet in Iran, confirmed these rumours. At the time of publishing this report, Netblocks claimed that the connectivity is registered at 14%.

According to reports from news agencies inside Iran, the blackout is being lifted first by connecting Internet access in public spaces, and secondly via ADSL connections.

EU condemns Iran’s violent suppression of protests

The international community continued to condemn Iran’s violent crackdown on protestors. The European Union issued a formal statement on the unrest, which stated that “The rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be guaranteed,” adding that “We also expect the Iranian authorities to ensure the free flow of information and access to the internet.”

The EU statement was criticised by Iranian media outlets, including Fars News, for intervening publicly. The Fars News piece countered the EU statement with criticisms of the French government’s own handling of protests and civil unrest in recent months.

The US State Department also published a video expressing solidarity with Iranian protestors, and calling for the restoration of internet access for Iran’s citizens.

Iran contests death toll of 106 published by Amnesty

Iran’s UN representative Alireza Miryousefi declared on Twitter that Amnesty International’s account of 106 deaths (and potentially up to 200) during recent unrest is inaccurate. He stated that “any casualty figures not confirmed by the government are speculative & not reliable, & in many cases part of a disinformation campaign waged against Iran from outside the country.” The government has not published an updated estimated death toll.

Government announces second wave of subsidy payments issued to eligible citizens

The Iranian news agency Tasnim News reports that a second wave of subsidy payments have been delivered to a further 20 million eligible Iranian citizens. The payment of the previously planned subsidy payments has been expedited in the wake of the unrest, with a further 20 million recipients due to be paid on Saturday at midnight.

Fars News Accuses BBC Persian of inciting unrest via Telegram

The Iranian news agency Fars News published a piece criticising BBC Persian for inciting violence and unrest through its reporting of the ongoing protests in Iran. The article uses screenshots from BBC Persian’s Telegram channel to accuse it of seeking unverified footage of protests, quoting anonymous sources, and highlighting locations of ongoing unrest in order to “encourage rioting”.

Such articles are part of ongoing government efforts to delegitimise international criticism of Iran’s response to the unrest.

Supreme Council of Cyberspace Secretary claims large spikes in usage of domestic messaging services

According to Fars News Abuhasan Firouzabadi, Secretary to the Supreme Council for Cyberspace confirmed that the decision to reconnect the internet will be taken by national security decision-makers. He claimed that during the internet shutdown, domestic traffic has been at “record breaking” levels, at around “750GB per second”. These claims cannot be independently verified at this time.

Swiss Ambassador called to Foreign Ministry in his capacity as representative for US interests in Iran

Mehr News reported that the Swiss Ambassador to Iran Markus Leitner, in his capacity as representative for US interests in Iran, was called to the Foreign Ministry to receive the Islamic Republic’s protests against the US “meddling in Iran’s domestic affairs”.

“Seven major universities in Tehran reconnected to the Internet”

According to ISNA seven major universities in Tehran (Amir Kabir, Sharif, Alaame Tabatabaei, Tehran University, Elm va Sanaat, Khaje Nasir and Shahid Beheshti) have been “reconnected to the global internet”. The Head of Public Relations at Sharif University stated that students and university staff “can connect to the internet using university ID”, adding that the network should be operating at “normal speeds”.

The tiered reconnection of internet to key institutions such as universities, banks and hospitals is in line with the government’s long-term plans to institute “layered filtering”. Although not yet rolled out, this proposed system would assign an “online ID” to all Iranian internet users based on their status and occupation, and thereby would enable the government to grant different user groups with differing levels of internet access.

State media: “rallies in support of the country’s strength and security”

A number of videos were posted on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) service’s Twitter page, showing “rallies in support of the country’s security” in Zahedan, Pakdasht, Fardis, Alborz, Bandar Abbas and Kerman, among other cities.

State television channel broadcasts “confessions” from a recently arrested female protestor

According to BBC Persian on Thursday night, Iran’s state television broadcast a forced confession by a recently arrested female protestor by the name of “Fatemeh Davaand”. The woman stated she was present in protests in Bukan, a city in West Azerbaijan Province. According to IRIB’s report, she was a “major figure in the protests in Bukan”, who was arrested trying to flee the country through one of Iran’s border towns.

However, as reported by BBC Persian, a journalist named Shahed Alvi tweeted that Davaand was injured in a shooting during the protests, and subsequently arrested. According to Davaand, her family was told she was dead in order that authorities “could write an [incriminating] story about her”.

In recent weeks, MPs have been attempting to pass legislation banning the broadcast of forced confessions on state television and other public outlets.

The internet shutdown enters its fifth day with connectivity levels dropping to 5% of ordinary levels

Source: NetBlocks’ ongoing Iran blog

A number of MPs and political figures comment on the internet shutdown, stating it will reconnected “soon”

According to a report by ISNA a number of MPs and political figures have commented on reconnecting the internet, some of the highlights:

  • Abulfazl Hassanbeigi, a member of the Parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Commission said that given the arrests of key figures involved in the “riots” and the calming down of the situation, he believes that the internet should be reconnected in “the next few days”.
  • Jalal Mirzaei, the Head of the “List of Hope” faction in Parliament said that as “peace has been restored in the country”, it seems that the internet is “being reconnected in certain provinces”.
  • Mohammad Javad Kolivand, a member of the National Security Council, said that a decision on reconnecting the internet would be made “soon”.

Iranian newspaper describes shutdown as a “relatively successful experiment” of the National Information Network

Amir Rashidi of the Center for Human Rights in Iran tweeted the front page of the IRIB-owned Jam-e Jam newspaper, which described the ongoing internet shutdown as a “relatively successful experiment” of Iran’s National Information Network.

Based on reports from Tuesday, key elements of domestic banking infrastructure, as well as domestic messaging apps appeared to be largely (if not completely) immune from the effects of the internet shutdown.

Iran claims 200% rise in usage of domestic search engine Parsijoo

Amir-Ali Kheirandish, the Board Chairman of the domestic search engine Parsijoo announced that there has been a 200% increase in usage of the platform in recent days.

However, Kheirandish added that the search engine has not had the capacity to deal with the level of demand it has received, claiming that this is due to a combination of hardware issues and network disruptions.

Protests continue as Iran enters its fourth day of near total internet shutdown with connectivity dropping to 7% of ordinary levels

Source: NetBlocks’ ongoing Iran blog

As the internet shutdown continued for a fourth day, BBC Persian published more videos from the protests. This video showed the situation at Tehran University with an eyewitness reporting that the main entrance was “blocked by security forces” to prevent students from leaving. Further eyewitness reports gave an account of the protests in Tehran.

Government spokesperson says internet will be restored if it is not “abused”

Ali Rabeiee, the government’s spokesperson stated in a conversation with journalists that, while the government “accepts” that the internet shutdown is negatively affecting students, and those in certain professions, that the “peace and stability” of Iran is the bigger issue. He went onto say that the internet would be restored in provinces where there are assurances that it will not be “abused”.

Amnesty International “more than 100 protestors believed to be killed”

According to a statement by the Islamic Azad University News Agency in the early hours of Tuesday, “one IRGC and two Basij guards were killed in Tehran”. The headline was repeated in a number of international outlets reporting on the protests in Iran.

Later that afternoon, Amnesty International reported that at least 106 protestors had been killed in 21 cities, citing “credible reports”. However, Amnesty added that the figure is expected to be closer to 200, in light of the limited and delayed information flows from Iran at present. State media has so far only reported a few dozen deaths, and stated that their reporting will be “delayed”.

Government recommends domestic internet services and apps during the internet blackout

Mehr News wrote about how the internet shutdown provides an opportunity for users to “try out” domestic messaging apps and services. They claimed that domestic messaging apps such as “Bale”, “Soroush”, “Gap” and some others are still active and are connected through the National Information Network (SHOMA). The piece also alleged that banking applications and online government services remain connected to the National Information Network.

The article went on to suggest that given the continued availability of domestic online services, search engines, and domestically hosted email services, that dependency on international services will reduce and eventually diminish.

These domestic applications have major security implications for users. As all of their users’ data is hosted in Iranian data centres, users’ personal data and communications are potentially at risk of being exposed to surveillance by government and security forces, given the absence of any meaningful online privacy protections in Iran.

Iran’s Central Bank: “Internet shutdowns have not caused any problems for the banking network”

Mehran Mehrmian, the Deputy for Innovation at Iran’s Central Bank stated in an interview that in collaboration with the ICT Ministry, disruptions to the Iranian financial system were “mitigated” from the early hours of the shutdown. Mehrmian confirmed that banking IP addresses are “white listed” and that the servers of banks and payment service providers are located inside Iran, protecting them from network disruptions. Small Media cannot currently independently verify this claim.

Rouhani “walks out” of meeting of Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution

ISNA reported that a meeting of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution (or SCCR) went ahead on Tuesday night. Further reports emerged quoting Mahalat and Delijan MP Alireza Salimi, that President Rouhani — who acts as Chairman of the SCCR — argued with the conservative scholar and SCCR member Hassan Rahimpour Azghadi, after he criticised the government’s decision to increase the price of petrol. According to Salimi, this lead to a heated argument that resulted in Rouhani “walking out”.

United Nations voices “deep concern” over state-directed violence in Iran, but fails to mention ongoing internet blackout

The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a press briefing expressing “deep concern” at reports of “dozens killed in continuing protests”.

The statement urged Iranian authorities and security forces to “avoid the use of force to disperse peaceful assemblies and, in cases in which an assembly is violent, to restrict the use of force to the greatest extent possible’. The OHCHR statement made no mention of the internet shutdown, or the violation of citizens’ digital rights, which are guaranteed under a July 2018 resolution of the UN Human Rights Council.

International condemnation grows over use of force during protests

France, Germany and the United States condemned state-directed violence and the use of live ammunition against protestors in Iran. The White House press release can be read here. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also tweeted his support for protestors calling for the government to restore access to a free and open internet.

Planned closure of Parliament suspended

According to ISNA, next week’s planned closure of Iran’s Parliament is no longer going ahead. The closure was scheduled to allow MPs to visit their home constituencies.

Four football matches cancelled this week

BBC Persian reported that four out of eight planned matches of Iran’s Professional Football League were cancelled in the past week. The Professional League Organisation cited a “lack of favourable conditions” as the reason for the cancellations.

ICT Minister acknowledges shutdown as blackout enters third day

Source: NetBlocks’ ongoing Iran blog

Iran’s ICT Minister, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi confirmed the reports that an internet shutdown was in effect, stating that the ICT Ministry had not been involved with the decision and he himself does not have access to the internet. He also claimed that he was unaware of when the internet will be reconnected, but that he is “following up” about the internet’s reconnection.

According to the government’s spokesperson, Ali Rabeiee, there was the possibility of reconnecting the internet in certain provinces who do not have any “security issues”. He also stated that he cannot confirm the numbers of the dead and injured, claiming that a “few more days are needed”. Rabeiee claimed in the same statement that compared to the previous day, there were “80% less” crowds on the streets.

As unrest spreads, IRGC threatens crackdown on protestors

In a statement broadcast on IRIB, the IRGC threatened to respond harshly to the continuation of street protests. In the statement, a IRGC spokesperson stated that “If necessary we will take decisive and revolutionary action against any continued moves to disturb the people’s peace and security”.

Meanwhile, BBC Persian was able to confirm heavy clashes in Marlik, Behbahan, Shiraz, Kermanshah, with a video of from Markazi Province showing a protestor being shot.

BBC Persian reported that a number of schools were closed in the provinces of Tehran, Fars, Isfahan, Chaharmahal & Bakhtiari and Bushehr, as well as all schools in Alborz province. The reason for their closure was not confirmed.

According to state media, the first wave of subsidy payments were paid to eligible citizens.

Rallies are held globally in support of Iran protests

The below map produced by United for Iran shows the location of 23 rallies held around the world in support of the ongoing protests in Iran.

Source: United for Iran’s ‘Iran Rally’ map, Ushahidi

Iran enters its second day of near-total internet shutdown, with connectivity dropping to 5%

Source: NetBlocks’ ongoing Iran blog

ISNA reported that Iran’s access to the international internet had been restricted by an order of the National Security Council.

The near-total internet shutdown meant that by Sunday evening, the majority of users had been disconnected from the internet, while a very small minority may still have had slow, or limited internet access. This is demonstrated by a map of online and offline internet “probes” provided by Amir Rashidi, Internet Security and Digital Rights Researcher at the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

Source: A map of Iran-based probes’ internet connectivity, from the Center for Human Rights in Iran’s Internet Security and Digital Rights Researcher Amir Rashidi

Richard Grenell, the US Ambassador to Germany took to Twitter to suggest that the US government has the “technical ability to turn the internet on for the people of Iran” though at present there is no evidence to suggest that the infrastructure exists to achieve this.

Khamenei publicly backs petrol price hikes, and condemns protesters

Following two days of protests, Khamenei delivered a speech on Sunday morning endorsing the decision of the Supreme Council of Economic Coordination of the Heads of Branches of Government to increase petrol prices.

In his statement, Khamenei described the torching of banks and buildings as the work of “evil” forces, not “ordinary” citizens. Some eyewitnesses reported that the arsonists were members of the security forces, and stated that protestors were not responsible for initiating any violence.

Following Khamenei’s public support for the decision to increase petrol prices, the Iranian Parliament withdrew its planned motion to overturn the decision, and retreated from any further action or criticism of the price increases.

Soon after Khamenei’s statement, videos and reports circulating on social media showed protestors using slogans criticising not just Rouhani’s administration, but the Islamic Republic, and Khamenei himself.

Rouhani issues threat to protestors in first televised address

Rouhani made his first statement since the protests broke out, stating that during the current economic sanctions environment, middle income families are under pressure and have a “right to protest” which is different to causing “turbulence”. He also addressed the protestors, stating that sufficient technology and cameras are in place to be able to identify the protestors and their cars and that the Judiciary should respond appropriately.

He also announced that from Monday evening the Planning and Budget Organisation would start making payments to 20 million people eligible for government subsidies. Payments would be made to a further 40 million eligible recipients over two subsequent payment stages during this week and next week.

According to the Planning and Budget Organisation, the subsidy to mitigate the effects of the increase in petrol price amounts to IRR 550,000 for a single individual, increasing to IRR 205,000 for a family of five.

A table showing subsidy payment amounts per person, per family. Source: BBC Persian; from the Planning and Budget Organisation

Iran enters its first day of near total internet shutdown with connectivity falling to 7%

Source: NetBlocks’ ongoing Iran blog

Based on reports by network monitors and contacts from inside Iran, the country began to experience a near-total internet shutdown on Saturday 16th November, with levels of connectivity to the outside world falling to 7% of normal levels. In practice, this means that Iranian citizens have been completely blocked from accessing any services or data hosted outside Iran’s borders, limiting their internet connectivity to services hosted domestically on Iranian data centres connected to Iran’s National Information Network (also known as SHOMA).

Intermittent videos emerged on social media, documenting violent clashes between protestors and security forces. Footage showed riot police fatally shooting protesters, with reports emerging of dozens of deaths and hundreds of arrests. Given the lack of information available, and restrictions on journalists’ activities, these reports cannot yet be verified.

There have also been reports of authorities sending SMS messages to protesters, warning them to leave the protest. There is no evidence that these SMS messages are targeted, and could be send on a mass scale to cause fear around participation.

MPs furious at gas hike decision launch impeachment proceedings against President Rouhani, Speaker Larijani

Members of Parliament criticised Rouhani and his government for failing to consult Parliament about the decision to hike petrol prices. According to Fars News, in a public parliamentary session on Sunday, Qom MP Mojtaba Zonnour began collecting signatures to initiate impeachment proceedings for the Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani. According to Khomeinishahr MP Mohammad Javad Abtahi, Zonnour had collected “around 50 signatures”.

Signatures were also collected for Rouhani’s impeachment with different reports stating 50–60 signatures had been obtained, though it is unclear which MP led this effort.

Source: A tweet from Qom’s MP Mojtaba Zonnour — “The move by the government is illegal”.

First significant protests break out in Southern Iran

Reports of protests began on Friday, with footage emerging of citizens creating roadblocks and disruptions nationwide in reaction to petrol price increases. BBC Persian reported that these initial protests were particularly prevalent throughout parts of Southern Iran, including Ahvaz, Omidieh, Mahshahr, Behbahan and Khoramshahr.

Eyewitnesses and videos provided accounts of Basij and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) security forces clashing with protesters using teargas and live ammunition.

Initial internet disruptions and outages are reported

NetBlocks reported outages and disruptions to mobile phone and fixed line services in the cities of Tehran, Mashhad and Shiraz. At this time, only intermittent disruptions were reported and Iran was only partially offline, with NetBlocks confirming a sharp decline at 21:15 UTC (12:45am local time).

Source: NetBlocks’ ongoing Iran blog

Sudden announcement of petrol price hike triggers widespread discontent

The protests begin following the Government’s announcement of a 200% increase in the price of petrol. The announcement, which was made without prior warning during the final working hours on Thursday, confirmed that from the early hours of Friday 15 November the price of a litre of petrol would increase from IRR 10,000 to IRR 30,000 on the free market, and that the rationed and subsidised rate would increase to IRR 15,000. Previously, drivers were allowed up to 250L of petrol per month at IRR 10,000 per litre.

The revised subsidised monthly usage limit, which was released by the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company, allocates a monthly petrol allowance of 60L for personal use, 400L for taxis, and 500L for ambulances, with different allocations available for other vehicle types.

A table showing the altered petrol allowances for various types of vehicles. Source: BBC Persian; ; from the National Iranian Oil Products Distribution Company

Price hike appears to have emerged from Iran’s “Sanctions War Room”

Radio Farda reported that the decision to increase petrol prices was made by the Supreme Council of Economic Coordination of the Heads of Branches of Government, which is chaired jointly by the President, the Head of the Judiciary and Head of Parliament.

Other members include the President’s First Deputy, Head of the President’s Office, Minister for Financial Affairs, Director General of the Central Bank, First Deputy for the Judiciary, Head of the Parliamentary Commision on Finance, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Attorney General, among others.

The Council in its current format was set up following a meeting by the Heads of Branches of Government with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khamenei reportedly requested the creation of a “war room” in reaction to the US sanctions against Iran.

As this Council was created without the passage of any formal legislation, it is unclear how decisions are made and ratified. However, it would appear that given the set-up of the council, decisions cannot pass without Khamenei’s oversight and approval.

There are a number of live threads on Twitter that have consistently published updates about different aspects of the unfolding events in Iran. These threads have all been a great resource for the Small Media team in compiling this briefing, and we want to thank the authors for their tireless efforts.

Please let us know if you would like your Twitter feed or reporting to be included in our future updates.


A note on our reporting

Reporting during a near total internet shutdown poses challenges, and there are significant delays in the sharing of information from inside Iran. We estimate that there is currently around a 24-hour in the transmission of video footage out of Iran, and this delay is reflected in our reporting.

Updates are posted below in reverse order, with our most recent update first.

Accessing information inside Iran

The only way that citizens inside Iran can continue to access information from the outside world remains via Toosheh. Toosheh is a data-casting service that provides crucial materials to Iranians that can be downloaded via satellite broadcasts.

If you or your organisation has materials that you think would be useful for Iranian citizens, and should be packaged in Toosheh’s broadcasts, please reach out to the team via the contact details below:

Filterwatch

Monitoring online censorship and internet policy in Iran

Small Media

Written by

Small Media is a non-profit based in London that aims to increase the flow of information in Iran and other closed societies.

Filterwatch

Monitoring online censorship and internet policy in Iran

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