A WEB OF IMPUNITY The killings Iran’s internet shutdown hid

In November 2019, security forces in Iran killed at least 304 men, women and children during five days of protests which swept across the country.

Security forces used lethal force unlawfully against the vast majority of protesters and bystanders killed, shooting most to the head or torso, indicating intent to kill. To this day, no official has been held accountable for the unlawful killings.

The deadly crackdown was accompanied by the authorities shutting down access to the internet for most of the population.

An internet shutdown is not a new tactic to limit access to information. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has declared that “states … must not block or hinder internet connectivity in relation to peaceful assemblies.” However, states are increasingly doing just this; in the past two years, states such as Myanmar, Sudan, Venezuela, Belarus, and Ethiopia have limited or barred access to the internet. In Iran, as elsewhere, not only did the shutdown restrict access to information for people inside the country, it also stopped them from being able to share information with the rest of the world, thus obstructing research into the human rights violations and crimes committed, the identities of the perpetrators and the victims, and the real number of deaths.

Amnesty International has painstakingly uncovered the details of 304 people who were killed in Iran in November 2019. We share some of their stories below. We believe the real number of deaths is higher but the web of impunity spun by the Iranian authorities means we may never learn the names and stories of all those whose lives were brutally cut short.

On the anniversary of the shutdown and the deadly crackdown, we have created this website to explain what an internet shutdown is, to show why it is a serious violation of human rights, to remember those killed in the protests, and to ask for your help in seeking justice and accountability.