French authorities were Tuesday investigating as suicide the drowning of an Iranian man in the southeastern city of Lyon who had said on social media he was going to kill himself to draw attention to the protest crackdown in Iran.
Mohammad Moradi, 38, was found in the Rhone river that flows through the centre of Lyon late on Monday, a police source, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
Emergency services intervened but were unable to resuscitate him on the riverbank, the source added.
Moradi had posted a video on Instagram saying he was about to drown himself to highlight the crackdown on protesters in Iran since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the country’s strict dress code for women.
“When you see this video, I will be dead,” Moradi said.
“The police are attacking people, we have lost a lot of sons and daughters, we have to do something,” Moradi said in the video.
“I 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,” he added.
Lyon prosecutors said they had launched a probe 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 take his life.
The incident has shocked the city, with a small rally to remember Moradi taking place on the banks of the Rhone on Tuesday.
Mourners placed candles and wreaths on the riverside railings, an AFP correspondent said.
“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.
According to several members of the Iranian community, Moradi was a history undergraduate and worked in a restaurant.
– ‘Heart beating for Iran’ –
He lived in Lyon with his wife for three years.
“His heart was beating for Iran, he could no longer bear the regime,” said Amini, deploring that while the Ukraine conflict was covered “every morning” one heard “very little about Iran” in the news.
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 his death was “not suicide” but “sacrifice to gain freedom”.
Mohadjer said that Moradi in the video said he “could not live peacefully, comfortably here — where he was very well integrated –” while Iranians were being killed.
Protests have gripped Iran for over three months.
The Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) said Tuesday 476 protesters have been killed in the crackdown with at least 100 Iranians risking execution over the protests, in addition to two young men already executed.
Iran’s top security body in early December gave a toll of more than 200 people killed, including security officers.
At least 14,000 people have been arrested since the nationwide unrest began, the United Nations said last month.