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Man Sets Self on Fire at Red Cross Office

March 9, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man walked into an office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Thursday complaining in broken English about human rights violations in Poland, dumped gasoline on himself, and set himself ablaze.

``He screamed, and then became very quiet,″ agency director Eigil Petersen said. ``The tragic thing is, he felt he had to commit suicide.″

He rebuffed efforts to send him to the Polish consulate or the United Nations, said the other Red Cross worker who witnessed the immolation, Debra Bunt.

``He said he wouldn’t listen to us, and he wouldn’t leave the office,″ Petersen said.

The man threatened to blow up the office, and as in previous visits, complained about genocide and human rights violations in Poland, Peterson said. Because of his thick accent, the witnesses couldn’t tell whose rights the man thought were being violated.

The unidentified man was dead when paramedics arrived on the 21st floor of the midtown Manhattan office tower, EMS spokesman David Billig said.

Only a few staff members work in the office, which deals mostly with relief for victims of natural disasters.

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