Middle East

Internet disrupted in Iran province as police disperse rally

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Police dispersed protesters in southwestern Iran angry over the Islamic Republic’s anemic economy amid a US sanctions campaign, a news report said on Friday, and internet access to the wider region was disrupted as demonstrators shared videos of the rally.

Internet-access advocacy group NetBlocks.org reported the disruption affecting Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province late Thursday.

The outage coincided with videos being published online of protesters gathering in the city of Behbahan, some 570 kilometers (355 miles) southwest of the capital, Tehran.

Those videos showed demonstrators chanting slogans heard at other protests in Iran over the last year, including: “Don’t be afraid, we are all together.” Others targeted Iran’s foreign policy, shouting: “No Gaza, no Lebanon, I will die for Iran.”

One video verified by The Associated Press shows a crowd of dozens of people in a square in Behbahan, shouting: “An Iranian will die, but will never accept humiliation.”

Behbahan’s police chief, Col. Mohammad Azizi, later was quoted by Iranian website jamaran.news as confirming a protest took place beginning at 9 pm Thursday. He said police “firmly dispersed” the demonstrators, who rallied over the economy. He said there were no injuries.

Iran shut down the country’s internet for days in November to halt protests that swept across the country, fueled by anger over the country’s anemic economy. Amnesty International reported at least 300 people were killed in the unrest, many shot dead by security forces.

The November demonstrations showed the widespread economic discontent gripping Iran since May 2018, when President Donald Trump imposed crushing sanctions after unilaterally withdrawing the United States from the nuclear deal that Tehran struck with world powers. That decision has seen Iran begin to break limits of the deal, as well as a series of attacks across the Mideast that America has blamed on Tehran.


Image: A man walks near the remains of gas pump stands, during protests against increased fuel prices, in Tehran, Iran November 20, 2019. (Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS )

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