What Iran wants us not to see

Saba Shirvani reports on the uprising in Iran sparked by an increase in fuel prices.

People in Berlin protest in solidarity with the uprising in Iran. Photo: Twitter

In the millennial age, the web, video-sharing platforms and social networks are basically used on a daily basis. Social technologies have enabled a user-generated approach and the social media impact is felt across the globe. This technological revolution is felt by all of us, even if you are not actively involved in social media.

Now imagine living in a country that uses their power to cut off your communication to stop your cry for help to the world. This is what has been going on since 15 November when the Iranian government decided to implement a total shut-down of internet services in their country.  A country of 80+ million people – and practically no way to get online. Iran’s internet shutdown has not lasted for a couple of hours, it has lasted for four days. 

The uprisings were sparked by the announcement of hikes in petrol prices across the country of at least 50 %. The economic sanctions have led to a severe decline in Iran’s economy, introducing an inflation rate of 41.6 %, forcing the national currency to a record low of its value. It didn’t take too long for the citizens of Iran to make use of their fundamental rights to peacefully protest. 

The population of Iran has increasingly become frustrated with the mismanagement of the cleric regime on the economic front, political instability and the massive corruption. Four decades after the Iranian revolution in 1979, the country retains its Islamic revolutionary spirit and the petrol-price hike triggers another large-scale instability in the Islamic Republic.

The demonstrations erupted and escalated quickly in more than 100 cities, blocking traffic on major roads, burned artworks of leaders in effigy, damaging government buildings, banks and symbols of the revolutionary system. 

The Iranian regime responded immediately by enforcing a total shutdown of the internet and mobile lines to hide away the brutal force that was applied on their citizens. In particular, setting up specialized sniper marksmen to take action against the rioters and adding the arrest of thousands of people. Iran’s action to cover up the depths of dozens of killings and tragedies have surprisingly worked, leaving the western world uninformed of what has been going on. 

Reported by Amnesty International, the real murder rate during the riots may be much higher, even though state media has listed only a handful of protestors deaths. Now that the internet connection is gradually being re-established, real video footage from inside the country reveals brutal firearms and tear gas usage to disperse the protests. The status of the country and riots have been explained by the government as an action against ‘thugs and villains’ ruining the national security. 

Human rights acts manifest the rights of peaceful assembly and the right of freedom of expression. In these moments we should ask ourselves how far we would be able to fight for our freedom even behind closed walls? If these crucial moments don’t get documented, did they ever happen? It is well known from history that oppression will happen behind hidden walls, but there will be always a moment when the truth will reveal itself. 

Until these answers are known, the best approach is to continue and expand the maximum pressure on Iran, as we once more, await one of their increasingly unpredictable reactions. It wasn’t too long ago, when the Iranian government mismanaged the water scarcity and deforestation resulted in a local water crisis. We can support the people by educating oneself on the various issues in Iran, particularly the abuse of human rights and sharing news and facts about the plight of the Iranian people.  Improving the relationship on the international context would relax the economic burden on the people.

Iranians across the world have used their voice on social media to bring awareness to these situations and to share videos and stories of what has been going on during the protest movement. In the age of social media, we are proving a gripping chronicle of human solidarity and urge the people not to remain silent. Most parts of Iran are now back online, the human stories of the victims are now emerging. We will remember them and will continue to seek justice for them and their families.

 

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