Internet access in Iran disrupted as anger at protesters’ death sentences grows

Saeed Tamjidi (L), Mohammad Rajabi (C) and Amirhossein Moradi (R) were convicted of a range of offenses including sabotage, armed robbery and illegally fleeing the country and sentenced to death. (Photo: Iran Human Rights Monitor)
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Updated 19 July 2020

Internet access in Iran disrupted as anger at protesters’ death sentences grows

  • Amirhossein Moradi, Saeed Tamjidi and Mohammad Rajabi will be sentenced to death
  • A Farsi hashtag translated as #DontExecute began trending globally on Tuesday

LONDON: Internet access was restricted across Iran on Tuesday after widespread anger on social media over death sentences handed to three protesters.

A Farsi hashtag translated as #DontExecute began trending globally on Tuesday evening according to Radio Farda, and Iranian activists — including the exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of deposed Shah Mohammad — circulated its English equivalent #StopExecutionInIran.

The online rallying call was prompted by a decision from Iran’s judiciary to uphold the death penalty of three men accused of taking part in anti-regime protests in November last year.

Saeed Tamjidi, 26, Mohammad Rajabi, 28, and Amirhossein Moradi, 26, were arrested in large-scale demonstrations that swept the country fueled by economic hardship and rising petrol prices.

After initially being released, they were convicted of a range of offenses including sabotage, armed robbery and illegally fleeing the country during a closed trial in January.

Tuesday’s verdict sparked a sharp rise in people using the hashtag on social media, including prominent influencers, politicians and sportspeople. Former vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi and national team footballer Hossein Mahini were among those calling for the government to listen to the people’s demands.

“An important part of this system, in case of protests, believe that measures should be toughened so they (protesters) don’t get brazen,” Abtahi wrote. “I have written many times that the system does not have the chance to be stubborn.”

At the same time the hashtag was trending, internet monitoring group said service providers linked to Iran’s security apparatus began slowing internet connection speeds. 

The group also reported disruption to internet access across Iran, saying: “Significant disruption to multiple networks in #Iran” occurred at 9:30 p.m. local time and impacted “citizens’ ability to communicate.”

The Iranian government regularly and increasingly blocks access to the internet — a process called “throttling” — during episodes of unrest or during widespread demonstrations.

Iranian officials said Tuesday that appeals made by the three men against their death sentences had failed. Lawyers for the three men said they have had no access to the case and that their clients’ confessions were “extracted under aberrant conditions.”

In an open letter published online, the lawyers called for a judicial review, citing fears the three men could be put to death in the immediate future.

“We have repeatedly stated that we have not been permitted to defend (our clients) and that they have no information about their trials,” the letter said.

Calls from the public for death sentences of those who took part in last year’s protests to be dropped have grown in Iran since November, especially on social media.

An estimated 251 people were executed in Iran in 2019, according to Amnesty International, which is the second highest tally in the world after China. The regime has also issued a number of new death sentences in recent weeks.

Amnesty on Tuesday demanded Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stop the execution of Tamjidi, Rajabi and Moradi.



Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

Updated 38 min 14 sec ago

Egypt receives new batch of Russian railroad cars

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir announced that the Alexandria Port would be receiving a new batch of 22 passenger railroad cars, bringing the total of Russian railroad cars so far to 103 vehicles, as part of a deal to manufacture and supply 1,300 new passenger railroad cars.

The deal, signed between the Egyptian Railways Authority and Russian-Hungarian company Transmashholding, is the largest in the history of Egypt’s railways, with a value of €1.16 billion ($1.8 billion).

Al-Wazir confirmed that the 22 railroad cars that arrived are third-class vehicles with dynamic ventilation.

The deal includes 800 air-conditioned vehicles, 500 third-class air-conditioned vehicles (a new service offered to passengers for the first time in the history of Egyptian railways), 180 second-class vehicles, 90 first-class vehicles, 30 air-conditioned buffet vehicles and 500 dynamic ventilated third-class vehicles.

Al-Wazir indicated that 35 vehicles have arrived during the current month, which is the average monthly supply agreed upon with the manufacturer, pointing out that this rate enables the railway authority to form three new trains consisting of tractors and all-new cars that are entered monthly to become part of the line.

Al-Wazir said that the deal contributes to raising the efficiency of the Egyptian railways’ daily operations and schedules. This coincides with the Egyptian Railway Authority’s projects to modernize infrastructure, including signaling systems, crossings, stations and other aspects.

All these projects that the ministry implemented contributed to increasing safety and security in train operations and improving the level of service.

Egypt is seeking to develop its railways, the second oldest in the world, after witnessing unfortunate accidents during the past two decades.

Over the past few years, railways in Egypt have undergone major development, represented by the modernization of the fleet of tractors and vehicles of various classes and the maintenance of trains and old railways.

According to official data, Egypt spent EGP 40 billion ($2.5 billion) on railway development projects during the past six years. Projects at a cost of EGP 86 billion are currently under way, and there is a plan to start implementing others at a cost of EGP 55 billion.