A 33-year-old teacher in Southern Italy is in critical condition after setting himself on fire to protest the country’s vaccine mandate, which orders all teachers to be fully vaccinated in order to work. The shocking incident occurred Monday in the city of Rende, Cosenza province.
In October 2021, a law was passed requiring all teachers and health workers in Italy to be either vaccinated or show a negative test before entering the workplace. However, new measures were put in place on January 10th which eliminated the option of showing a negative test to gain access to work and school.
According to witnesses, the teacher, whose name has not been released, travelled to the local police station at 10:30 am with a twenty-liter petrol can in his hand before pouring it over himself and igniting himself with a cigarette lighter. He was then extinguished by onlookers.
A tire dealer and a passing worker who were first to intervene commented:
“We saw that he set himself on fire and we immediately took the fire extinguishers to put it out. If we had waited for 30 seconds longer, in my opinion there would have been nothing to save.”
The two workers continued describing the intense and shocking moments:
“We were working and suddenly we saw a gentleman get out of a car with a petrol can, then when we realized that he had started to pour it on himself, taking out a lighter, by instinct we took the fire extinguishers and ran to help him. In this way we avoided the worst.”
The two workers, still shocked by the incident, added that the teacher didn’t say a word throughout the whole ordeal.
The teacher will be transferred to a large burn center in Naples as he has suffered burns to over 70% of his body, local media reports.
The horrific incident is reminiscent of two similar cases in Melbourne, Victoria where two people self-immolated in protest of the state’s vaccine mandate. In December last year, a Melbourne woman poured petrol over her car while setting herself alight carrying a sign saying “NO ONE CARES, MANDATES ARE KILLING US”, while a man on New Year’s Eve set himself and his car on fire in front of diners while screaming about Victoria’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
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