Sri Lankan dies in self-immolation protest in Switzerland

GENEVA, February 13, 2009 (AFP) – A British resident of Sri Lankan origin burnt himself to death outside the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva in protest at the south Asian conflict, local police said Friday.

Police were alerted by passers-by and UN security late Thursday after the man doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire at the largely deserted square outside the United Nations compound.

A spokesman for police in the Swiss city, Eric Grandjean, said the man was ablaze when officers arrived.

“He was alone, there was almost no one on the square,” Grandjean told AFP.

The man had left a five-page letter giving only a Tamil first name, explaining that he lived in Britain and was protesting against the conflict in Sri Lanka, Grandjean added.

However, police have not been able to identify him.

About 500 people, mainly Sri Lankans, gathered on the square Friday to pay their respects.