Iran to unblock internet once `abuse` stops: Government

Smoke rises during a protest after authorities raised gasoline prices in the central city of Isfahan Iran Saturday Nov. 16 2019

Smoke rises during a protest after authorities raised gasoline prices in the central city of Isfahan Iran Saturday Nov. 16 2019. AP—AP

It didn't take long before the fuel protests turned political, either, and security forces were called in to handle the situation.

More than 100 demonstrators are believed to have been killed across Iran since leaders ordered security forces to stamp out protests triggered by fuel price rises, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

An Iranian man checks a scorched gas station that was set ablaze by protesters during a demonstration against a rise in gasoline prices in Eslamshahr, near the Iranian capital of Tehran, on November 17, 2019.

President Hassan Rouhani has defended the price hike, saying the proceeds would go to 60 million needy Iranians.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi slammed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for backing protesters in Iran on Sunday, describing a tweet from Washington's top diplomat as "hypocritical".

"It was a bad choice at a poor time. The economic situation has always been hard for people, and Rouhani unexpectedly implemented the decision on fuel", she said.

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Iranian officials have reported the death of 12 protesters and members of Iran's security forces, and said more than 600 people have been arrested since the protests erupted on November 15 after the government announced it was rationing gasoline purchases and cutting subsidies amid biting us sanctions imposed after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement.

Though the state-owned newspaper has a small circulation, its managing editor Hossein Shariatmadari was personally appointed by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Authorities postponed four soccer matches in different parts of the country scheduled for Thursday and Friday, the Iranian weekend, according to the semiofficial ISNA news agency.

Video footage reviewed by Amnesty showed "riot police smashing windows of cars with drivers still inside".

Snipers have shot into crowds of protestors from rooftops and, in one case, from a helicopter, Amnesty said.

Video footage and eyewitness testimony reveal a harrowing pattern of unlawful killings by the Iranian security forces, who have used excessive force to crush largely peaceful protests in more than 100 cities since the fuel price protests began at the end of last week.

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Unofficial reports from various sources say about 200 people have been killed and 3,000 injured over the past five days.

Notably, Iran imposed an nearly complete nationwide internet blackout on Sunday, making one of its most draconian attempts to cut off Iranians from each other and the rest of the world as widespread anti-government unrest roiled the streets of Tehran and other cities for a third day.

Authorities shut down internet access Saturday, leaving state media and government officials to tell their story.

It also urged the global community, including the United Nations and the European Union, to hold Iranian authorities to account for the "unlawful killings".

On Monday, the powerful Revolutionary Guards warned of "decisive" action if the protests continued, state media reported. That's 12 cents a liter, or about 50 cents a gallon. But the United Nations put the figure for deaths in the dozens, and called on the government to "immediately to re-establish Iranians' access to the internet, as well as other forms of communication, which allow for freedom of expression and access to information".

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