Musk Activating Satellite Internet Access To Iranian Protesters
Space exploration and electric vehicle billionaire Elon Musk struck a blow for free speech and access to uncensored information on Friday. Musk announced his intention to open low-earth-orbit satellite internet access to protesters in Iran.
Demonstrations across Iran have exploded since the recent arrest of journalist Mahsa Amini for an alleged violation of laws requiring women to wear hijabs covering their faces. In response to the protests, the regime cut off internet access to most of the nation’s 80 million residents on Wednesday.
Musk announced his intention to support the protesters directly by moving to make his Starlink satellite network available over Iran.
By Friday, members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) used social media posts to share the news that protesters had “torched” an Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) base in northwest Iran. The MEK is a populist group fighting to overthrow the Iranian regime.
Protesters are reportedly rejecting the regime’s “religious tyranny” and are calling for the establishment of a democratically elected republic that provides equal rights for women and religious minorities.
The protest efforts may not be possible without the internet access provided by Starlink, and Musk asked U.S. government officials to help pave the way for him to activate the network for use by the Iranian people. Musk had to request a license from the Treasury Department in order to avoid violation of sanctions that have been imposed on Iran.
Musk also activated Starlink for use by the Ukrainian military and people after Russia invaded earlier this year.
A representative from the State Department told reporters that Starlink is not a total solution due to Iran’s “repressive tools for communication,” but it is providing some internet access where there had been none.
A MEK spokesman said the protests have “turned into a nationwide uprising” that is finally coming in response to the “pent-up anger” the Iranian people have been building up over the last 43 years of “suppression, corruption, and plunder.”
MEK officials said on Friday night that around 140 protesters have been killed and around 5,000 have been arrested by the regime since the protests erupted.