The page of the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, was hacked this Thursday by what appear to be members of the Anonymous collective, which for several days has been knocking down state services of the Iranian government.
“Ayatollah Khamenei lying down” tweeted an Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account, along with a photo of the Iranian leader’s website failing.
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The “hacker” group Anonymous announced yesterday, September 21, that it would launch attacks against official pages of the Iranian Government and institutions due to the protests over the death of Mahsa Amin.
The Iranian people are not alone
So far they have left the Fars agency, linked to the Revolutionary Guard, without service since yesterday, the Central Bank website and several state service pages. Some of those pages have returned to work properly.
For its part, the government last night blocked mobile internet almost completely and limited applications such as Whatsapp and Instagram in an apparent attempt to control the protests.
“Iran now suffers from the greatest internet restrictions since the November 2019 massacre,” said NetBlocks, a platform that monitors user connectivity and internet censorship.
The platform referred to the protests three years ago caused by the increase in fuel prices and which, according to Amnesty International, left more than 300 dead and thousands of detainees.
Iran blocks access to social networks for protests that have already claimed 17 lives
Iranian authorities blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp on Thursday, after six days of protests over the death of a young woman detained by the morality police in which 17 people have died, according to the balance of a state media.
The number of fatalities could be higher as the opposition NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo, speaks of at least 31 civilians killed by the security forces.
The death of Mahsa Amini, 22, sparked harsh condemnation around the world and international NGOs have denounced a “brutal” repression against protesters.
On Wednesday at the UN General Assembly in New York, US President Joe Biden expressed his solidarity with the “brave women” of Iran, following a defiant speech by his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi.
The young woman originally from Kurdistan (northwest) was arrested on September 13 in Tehran accused of “wearing inappropriate clothing” by the morality police, a unit in charge of enforcing the strict dress code. She died on September 16 at a hospital.
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Women in Iran must cover their hair and are not allowed to wear short coats above the knees, tight pants or jeans with holes.
According to militants, Mahsa Amini received a fatal blow to the head, but the Iranian authorities denied this and announced the opening of an investigation.
Demonstrations began immediately after the announcement of his death and spread to 15 cities across Iran.
“Seventeen people, including protesters and policemen, have lost their lives in the events of recent days” according to a new balance on state television, which did not specify the exact number of dead protesters and policemen.
The Iranian authorities denied their involvement in the deaths of the protesters.
Amnesty International denounced a “brutal repression” and the “illegal use of pellets, steel pellets, tear gas, water cannons and batons to disperse protesters.”
Internet access is limited
Since the start of the protests, internet connections have slowed down and authorities later blocked access to Instagram and WhatsApp.
“By decision of the authorities, it is no longer possible to access Instagram in Iran since Wednesday night and access to WhatsApp is also interrupted,” the Fars news agency announced.
The measure was taken because “of the actions carried out by the counterrevolutionaries against national security through these social networks,” added Fars.
Instagram and WhatsApp are the most used applications in Iran after the blocking of platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and Tiktok in recent years. In addition, internet access is largely filtered or restricted by the authorities.
In southern Iran, videos apparently from Wednesday show protesters burning a huge portrait of General Qassem Soleimani, killed in a US strike in Iraq in January 2020.
In other parts of the country, protesters set fire to police vehicles and chanted slogans against power, according to the official Irna agency. Police responded with tear gas and numerous arrests.
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Other images show protesters resisting law enforcement. The most viral in social networks are those of women who set their veils on fire