A man set himself ablaze in a central square in Prague Friday on the 50th anniversary of a student’s self-immolation protesting the Soviet Union.
The unidentified man set himself on fire at the same spot in Wenceslas Square where Jan Palach self immolated in January 1969. Paramedics said the man suffered burns over 30 percent of his body before bystanders put the flames out and had him taken to a hospital.
“I saw him from the distance, and rushed in as I realized, ‘My God, he really is on fire,’” a woman told reporters, according to Reuters. “I started to put out the fire, tried to douse it. He had petrol on himself, you can still smell it.”
A man who set himself on fire on #Prague's Venceslas square was a Czech citizen, as confirmed by Prague's police spokeswoman @AZoulova @PolicieCZ Nothing suggests political motivation https://t.co/tb42zaa06H
— Zdenek Novak (@ZdenekNovak1) January 18, 2019
Police said they were investigating the incident, but that thus far the man’s motive is unknown.
“According to initial information, a man born in 1964 poured an inflammable liquid on his body and set himself on fire,” police said over Twitter.
Palach committed his public suicide to shock citizens of Prague into action against the Soviet occupying forces that had quashed Prague’s democratic reforms and installed their Communist system. The unidentified man’s suicide attempt, however, likely had no political motive, according to police.
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