Internet restricted in protest-hit Iran: report

Protestors attend a demonstration after authorities raised gasoline prices, in the northern city of Sari, Iran, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. (AP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Internet restricted in protest-hit Iran: report

  • Decision was made by the Supreme National Security Council of Iran

TEHRAN: Authorities have restricted Internet access in Iran, the semi-official ISNA news agency said on Sunday, after nearly two days of nationwide protests triggered by a petrol price hike.

“Access to the Internet has been limited as of last night and for the next 24 hours,” an informed source at the information and telecommunications ministry said, quoted by ISNA.

The decision was made by the Supreme National Security Council of Iran and communicated to Internet service providors overnight, the source added.

It came after state television accused “hostile media” of trying to use fake news and videos on social media to exaggerate the protests as “large and extensive.”

Netblocks, a website that monitors online services, said late Saturday the country was in the grip of an Internet shutdown.

“Confirmed: Iran is now in the midst of a near-total national Internet shutdown; realtime network data show connectivity at 7 percent of ordinary levels after twelve hours of progressive network disconnections,” it said on Twitter.

At least one person was killed and others injured during the demonstrations that started across the country on Friday night, Iranian media said.

The protests erupted hours after it was announced the price of petrol would be increased by 50 percent for the first 60 liters and 300 percent for anything above that each month.

Rebels optimistic as Sudan peace talks resume

Updated 4 min 31 sec ago

Rebels optimistic as Sudan peace talks resume

  • The peace talks began in October in South Sudan and aim to put an end to conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan
JUBA: The Sudanese government and rebel groups on Wednesday kicked off a fresh round of peace talks, expressing optimism they could reach a deal in the next two weeks to end years of conflict.
The peace talks began in October in South Sudan and aim to put an end to conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where rebels have fought bloody campaigns against their marginalisation by Khartoum under ousted president Omar al-Bashir.
Numerous rounds of talks mediated by the African Union have previously failed, but there is fresh hope after Sudan's transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, made peace in these areas a priority.
"We are optimistic that this time (we) will achieve positive results," said Abdal Aziz Alhilu, leader of Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N) a coalition of three rebel groups at the talks.
The group represents those from South Kordofan, whose rebellion like that of Blue Nile is seen as a continuation of fighting which led to the independence of South Sudan in 2011.
In the previous round of talks all parties agreed to a permanent ceasefire.
In this round of face-to-face talks, the government and rebel groups are expected to negotiate and strike deals on political and security issues as well as humanitarian access. They are also expected to agree on power and wealth sharing.
"The peace that we are going to achieve ... will set a political and democratic transformation for our country," said Alhadi Idris, head of the Sudan Revolutionary Front, a coalition of nine rebel groups from the three conflict areas.
The conflict in the western region of Darfur erupted in 2003 when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Bashir's Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.
Hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the rebellions by ethnic minority groups in the three conflict zones that met with an iron fist from Bashir's ousted regime.
Representatives from the rebel groups said they believed issues of national identity and the failure to define the relationship between religion and the state, were root causes to the conflict and needed to be addressed by the talks.
Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy president of the Sudan Transitional Military Council, who is heading the government delegation from Khartoum, said his team is in Juba "with full mandate to reach a settlement through a negotiated agreement with the other groups."
"This round of talks should reach an agreement that will end the suffering of the Sudanese people especially the IDPs (internally displaced people) and the refugees in the other countries," Dagalo said.