Name: Bijan Ebrahimi
Age at death: 44
Cause of death: Murder (Burning)
Location: Bristol, England, UK
Bijan Ebrahimi was described as a “lonely misfit”, who was physically disabled due to a bad back, and excluded because of his race. He was Iranian, and only with the help of an anti-racist group had he been able to find housing. Bijan was not diagnosed with autism, but all signs seem to point that way. He was said to have a “learning disability”, but to be quite intelligent, having attended college. He had a lot of trouble finding friends and seemed desperate for attention. He annoyed neighbors by complaining about children kicking their footballs into his flower beds. Bijan was very rule-oriented; when he saw adults smoking and drinking while their children played on a trampoline, he grew frustrated that the adults were getting drunk in front of their children and took photos of them from his kitchen window.
Bijan’s cat and his flowers were his greatest love. He could often be seen tending the geraniums in his flower boxes. From the time he moved in, Bijan was harassed by his neighbors, who decided that he was “a pedo” and would vandalize the flowers he loved just to get a rise out of him. When Bijan yelled at them and took photos to gather evidence of the teens damaging his flowers, they accused him of being the troublemaker. The rumors grew worse and worse despite the lack of evidence; every new neighbor was told that Bijan was a pedophile. Despite knowing that his neighbors were harassing him, police did nothing to help Bijan.
Days before he died, Bijan called police to report a mob outside his apartment. Instead of helping him, they arrested and jailed him overnight. After that he made twelve more desperate calls to emergency services, but police again refused to help him.
Two of his neighbors dragged Bijan from his apartment, beat him, doused him in alcohol, and set him on fire. For twelve minutes, Bijan burned without assistance. When firemen arrived, he was dead.
Police who investigated Bijan Ebrahimi’s apartment after his death found no evidence that he was a pedophile. The photos he had been taking were of teenagers damaging his flowers. Several officers who failed to help Bijan have been suspended, and Bijan’s killers have pled guilty to the crime.
Of the 19 police officers who could have helped Bijan but did not, two were dismissed and served jail sentences of four and ten months, two were dismissed without jail time, and five were given warnings.
The story of Bijan Ebrahimi’s murder is to be made into a film. The producers hope that by telling his story, they will show what prejudice does to people and memorialize Bijan as “a symbol of love”.
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