An Iranian student allegedly drowned himself in the French city of Leon after allegedly announcing on social media that he was going to kill himself to draw attention to the protest crackdown in his homeland Iran. Mohammad Moradi, 38, was found in the Rhone River that flows through the center of Leon late on Monday in what appears to be a suicide.
Police have launched an investigation into Moradi's death. The chilling video of Moradi's announcement to kill himself has since gone viral. Emergency services personnel tried to revive Moradi on the riverside but were unable, a police source told AFP.
Suicide in Protest
Moradi had posted a chilling video on Instagram hours before his death in which he declared that he intended to commit suicide by drowning in order to draw attention to the crackdown on protesters in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who was killed by Tehran's morality police while being held in custody.
"When you see this, I will be dead," Mr Moradi said in the video.
"I [have] decided to commit suicide in the Rhone river. It is a challenge to show that we, Iranian people, we are very tired of this situation.
"My suicide is not for personal reasons. The police are attacking people; we have lost a lot of sons and daughters. We have to do something."
According to AFP, Moradi, a history student who worked in a restaurant, had resided in France for three years with his wife.
The International Community of Iranian Academics wrote on Twitter that "this sad news indicates the traumatizing impact of 44 years of an oppressive regime ruling over Iranian people."
"We wish Mohammad's family peace in this difficult time," it said.
According to Lyon's prosecutors, an investigation has been started to verify the theory of suicide, in view in particular of the messages posted by the person concerned on social networks announcing his intention" to commit suicide.
Iranians, journalists, and activists responded to Moradi's death online with an outpouring of support as a hashtag with his name spread on social media in Farsi and English. The tragedy has shaken the community in Leon also, and on Tuesday, a modest gathering was held on the Rhone River's banks in Moradi's honor.
Candles and wreaths were placed by mourners on the riverbank railings.
"Mohammad Moradi killed himself to make the voice of revolution heard in Iran. Our voice is not carried by western media," said Timothee Amini of the local Iranian community.
"His heart was beating for Iran; he could no longer bear the regime."
Lili Mohadjer said Moradi hoped that "his death would be another element for Western media and governments to back the revolution underway in Iran."
She said that his death was "not a suicide" but rather a "sacrifice for freedom."
Moradi allegedly said he "could not live peacefully, comfortably here," while Iranians were being killed, Mohadjer confirmed.
In a movement for change that has defied a ruthless repression, more than 100 days of protests in Iran have broken taboos and rocked the foundational beliefs of the Islamic republic.
Analysts claim that the protests, which started in mid-September after Mahsa Amini died while being held in custody, are a manifestation of the resentment that the population has been holding in about social and economic constraints.
Over the past three months, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's banners have been set on fire, ladies have publicly left their hijabs at home, and protesters have occasionally battled with police personnel.
According to the Oslo-based organization Iran Human Rights (IHR), 476 demonstrators have been killed in the crackdown, and at least 100 Iranians are at risk of being executed for their involvement in the demonstrations. Two young men have already been executed.