A 45-year-old Iranian man set himself on fire on September 4 in front of his children outside Tehran’s city hall.
Despite severe burns, the victim was saved and taken to a hospital, reports say.
Disregarding the screams of onlookers and warnings by police officers, the man tried to commit suicide by self-immolation, with his two children and a colleague present at the scene.
The man was apparently protesting a fine of 5 billion rials (roughly $118,000 at official rate) that he received after his shop was sealed off by municipality staff.
According to state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA), “The man, who has not yet been identified, set himself on fire at the same time the capital city’s mayor was leaving a city council session.”
Pro-reform Mayor Mohammad Ali Afshani paused for a few seconds before leaving the scene, ILNA reported.
The official news agency of the government, IRNA, however, denied that Afshani had been present at the time of the tragic incident.
Furthermore, it is reported that the man intended to set his children on fire as well but did not succeed after several people stepped in and intervened.
“Citizens present at the scene say the victim runs a shop in District 2 of Tehran,” a website close to the secretary of the influential Expediency Council, Tabnak, reported. “Municipal agents have penalized him with a 5 billion rial fine, which he could not afford. He pleaded for help from the municipality but was disappointed. Therefore, he decided to set himself on fire.”
Self-immolation to protest hardship in Iran is not unprecedented. On January 7, during nationwide anti-ruling establishment protests, an Iranian man set himself on fire to protest his business being closed by municipal agents. Shocked bystanders put out the flames and took the victim to the nearest hospital.
On May 22, ILNA reported a municipal worker in financial distress set himself on fire in the city of Abadan in oil-rich province of Khuzestan, southwestern Iran.
“The man set himself on fire in the city of Abadan, suffering severe burns to 80 percent of his body,” ILNA said. “The man was rushed to a burn care clinic in the city of Ahvaz, about 100 kilometers away. There was no further update on his condition.”
ILNA also said a male coworker tried to help the self-immolator but also suffered burns to 35 percent of his body.
According to statistics, each day more than 13 people take their lives by suicide in Iran, most of whom are aged 15–35. Some studies also show that in 2013, for instance, the average rate of suicide in Iran was six out of every 100,000 people, the BBC Persian Service reported two years ago.
Last year, Mohammad Javad Fatemi, chairman of the Burns Research and Study Center, affiliated with the Tehran University of Medical Sciences, announced that 30,000 people are hospitalized every year for setting themselves on fire across the country.