Shahram Aghamir spoke with Peyman Jafari, a historian at Princeton University about the recent wave of protests in Iran.
On Friday, Nov 15, protests broke out in 30 cities across Iran after a surprise announcement by the government to ration gasoline and raise prices by 50 percent. Some of the protests swiftly became anti-government demonstrations, targeting the Islamic Republic as a whole.
And, as in previous protests, demonstrators utilized Twitter and other social media platforms to organize, to communicate with the outside world and document the heavy-handed response by the state. In the first twenty-four hours, hundreds of images and video clips showed security forces brutally attacking protesters.
Amnesty International Verified video footage as well as eyewitness testimony from people on the ground and information gathered by human rights activists outside Iran reveal a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings by Iranian security forces: At least 106 protesters in 21 cities had been killed as of Wednesday, and Amnesty International believes that the real death toll may be much higher, some reports suggesting as many as 200 fatalities. State media have reported only a handful of protester deaths, plus those of four members of the security forces.
Adding to lethal attacks on the protests, within twenty-four hours, the government used a newly added tool - The Iranian authorities shutdown the internet for 5 days to stop the flow of information to the outside world and to cut off communication among the Iranian people themselves.
NetBlocks, a non-governmental organization that monitors Internet accessibility around the world, has reported that “The ongoing disruption is the most severe recorded in Iran since President Rouhani came to power, and the most severe disconnection tracked by NetBlocks in any country in terms of its technical complexity and breadth."
Peyman Jafari has an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Amsterdam and a Ph.D. in history from Leiden University. He has published a number of monographs, and edited volumes and articles on the 20th-century history of Iran. He has been a visiting scholar at SOAS (London) and Columbia University (New York).
Shahram Aghamir is a political commentator on issues related to the Middle East for public and alternative media. He is the co-founder and senior producer of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa (VOMENA) on KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California.
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