Iran protests continue: Starlink terminals reportedly smuggled into Tehran

Iranian security forces continued their brutal crackdown on protesters, beating and shooting at demonstrators.

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Iran, September 21, 2022. (photo credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Iran, September 21, 2022.
(photo credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Anti-government protests in Iran continued throughout the country on Thursday night and Friday, with videos showing large crowds chanting and blocking roads in Tehran and initial reports indicating that Starlink satellite internet service terminals have been smuggled into the country.

Video shared on social media showed protests in Mahabad, Tabriz, Tehran and Isfahan, among other locations.

One video reportedly from Tehran showed a large crowd of protesters blocking a road and burning what appeared to be a dumpster, while another video from Iran's capital showed a woman chanting "death to the dictator" from a loudspeaker on the roof of a building, with an unseen crowd repeating the slogan.

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's ''morality police'', in Tehran, Iran, September 21, 2022. (credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS/FILE PHOTO)People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's ''morality police'', in Tehran, Iran, September 21, 2022. (credit: WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS/FILE PHOTO)

Another video from Qom showed a man knocking a headdress off of a religious man walking through the city. A number of videos from throughout Iran also showed women walking in public without wearing hijab, with one video showing women eating at the Palladium Shopping Center in Tehran without headscarves.

Another video from Tehran published on Wednesday showed two women offering hugs to passersby with a sign reading "a hug for a sad nation."

Government continues to intensify violent crackdown on protesters

Videos shared on social media in recent days continued to show a heavy government crackdown on protesters, with security forces firing tear gas and live bullets towards residential buildings in multiple cities. One video showed security forces beating protesters with batons in Rasht in northern Iran.

The exact number of casualties remains unclear, but has been reported as over 240 by Iranian opposition-affiliated human rights organizations.

The Organizing Council for Protests of Oil Contract Workers reported on Thursday that over 250 workers in the petrochemical industry had been arrested amid strikes and protests in the past two weeks.

Moeen Nehzati, an Iranian who recently moved to the US to begin university studies, tweeted this week that the "crackdown in Iran is way worse than you think, even if you've been following the news."

Nehzati stressed that most news agencies are only reporting what they can verify, but a lack of reporters on the ground and Iranians fears of talking to foreign press make verifying much of the information about the protest nearly impossible. The Iranian student added that the casualty numbers are higher than being reported, but many of the relatives of those killed are unwilling to speak publicly or to foreign press.

Voice of America journalist Shahed Alavi tweeted on Thursday that a doctor treating political prisoners at the Evin Prison saw at least 20 dead bodies in a van after a fire tore through the prison on Saturday.

Internet access heavily restricted in Iran

Iranian authorities continued heavy restrictions on internet access on Thursday and Friday, with the widely cited 1500tasvir Twitter account reporting in recent days that the condition of internet access was even worse than it has been in the past month.

The internet restrictions have made it exceedingly difficult for reports and footage from the protests in Iran to be published on social media, meaning that the full extent of the ongoing protests is unclear.

On Thursday video and photos were shared on social media purporting to show Starlink satellite internet service equipment being set up in Iran, although reports conflicted on whether the equipment was set up in Ahvaz or Tehran.

Firouz Naderi, an Iranian-American who formerly served as the director of Solar System Exploration at NASA, tweeted on Wednesday that middle men were trying to sell Starlink terminals on the black market in Iran for $2,000-$3,000, despite about three dozen terminals having been donated for free with paid subscriptions.

Protests set to continue in coming week

Next week, Iranians will mark 40 days since the killing of Mahsa Amini, an important marker in Shi'ite mourning rituals.

Demonstrations will also be held in Berlin on Saturday in support of Iranian protesters.