In July 1999, China¡¯s president, Jiang Zemin, began a nationwide crackdown on Falun Gong, a peaceful practice guided by the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance. This ancient practice for mind, body, and spirit has benefited millions of people in over 50 countries around the world. Threatened by its growing popularity in China, Jiang Zemin is now leading a brutal and unrelenting campaign against Falun Gong. To avoid condemnation from the world, Jiang has been using every means within his power to carry out this persecution.
The most highly publicized example of Jiang Zemin¡¯s strategy is the self-immolation that took place in Tiananman Square on January 23rd, 2001. Jiang¡¯s regime used this horrific event to turn popular opinion against Falun Gong.
What is the real truth behind this tragedy?
The self-immolation footage in this video was broadcast by
China Central TV (CCTV), which is owned and controlled by the
¡¾Title¡¿ A STAGED TRAGEDY: Self-Immolation in Tiananmen Square
---- Analysis of CCTV¡¯s Video Tape of January 23, 2001
According to China¡¯s state-run news agency, Xinhua, at 2:41pm on January 23rd, on the northeast side of the People¡¯s Hero Monument, a man named Wang Jindong set himself on fire. ¡°Four policemen immediately surrounded the man with several fire extinguishers.¡± ¡°In less than one minute, the fire was put out.¡± A few minutes later on the north side of the People¡¯s Hero Monument, four women also set themselves on fire. A minute and a half later, the police had put out those fires. The entire scene played out in less than 7 minutes.
Somehow, the Xinhua News Agency broadcast its report of this incident to the whole world within two hours of the time of occurrence. Normally, every report from Xinhua must be approved by all levels of government before it can be broadcast to the public. However, news of the self-immolations was broadcast in an unusually short time.
[Subtitle] Expected or Unexpected ?
The Beijing Evening News reported on February 16th that ¡°there were 3 or 4 policemen putting out the fire of each self-immolator.¡± Altogether, they had about 25 pieces of firefighting equipment.
This story differed significantly from the program broadcast by Chinese Central TV on the day the incident occurred. The CCTV program showed that there were only 2 police cars at the scene. Police officers who patrol the Square do not normally carry firefighting equipment with them and the footage doesn¡¯t show any firefighting equipment in Tiananmen Square.
In Beijing, the closest building to the People¡¯s Hero Monument is at least 10 minutes away. Where did the policemen get the equipment and how did they get it so quickly? Why would 2 police vehicles be carrying 25 pieces of firefighting equipment to patrol Tiananmen Square? Were they expecting to put out a fire that day?
[Subtitle] Suicide or Homicide?
The Xinhua News Agency claimed that Ms. Liu Chunling died from self-immolation, but a closer look at the video shows she might have died from a hard blow to the head. If we slow the video down, we can see that while Ms. Liu struggles in the fire, she is struck on the head by something from behind. We see Ms. Liu knocked to the ground; we also see the object that hit her bounce off her head into the air. If we pause the tape, we can see someone¡¯s arm waving very close to Ms. Liu¡¯s head. We can also see a man wearing an overcoat standing at the spot where the object came from. His pose suggests someone who has just used force.
The question arises: Did Ms. Liu willingly set herself on fire? Why would someone want to knock her down? Why didn¡¯t that person try to save Ms. Liu from burning to death?
[Sub title] Who Shot the Footage?
The Chinese media claims that it was CNN journalists who recorded the close-up shots. But the head of the International Department of CNN stated that CNN did not film anything because at the very beginning of the incident, CNN reporters were arrested and their equipment confiscated. CNN did not have a chance to shoot any footage.
When we look again at the tape from Chinese Central TV, we can see a man carrying a camera bag at the scene. He seems to be shooting the whole incident from close by. Who is he? Why didn¡¯t the police stop him the way they stopped the CCN reporters? Why would the government lie about the source of the videotape?
Even more unnatural is that fact that when 12-year-old burn victim Liu Siying¡¯s life is in danger, We can see that someone takes a close-up shot of her and records her voice. We can only wonder: What are the priorities here? ¨C saving a young child at all possible costs, or collecting evidence for future use?
The CCTV footage also shows the police officer behind Wang Jindong holding a fire-extinguishing blanket. He doesn¡¯t use the blanket immediately, as one would expect. He is just holding it, and looks as if he is waiting for a signal from the burning man or waiting for the photographer to take a picture. Is it coincidental that this footage was shot within 1 or 2 minutes after the fire broke out, and that it was shot from the best angle?
[Subtitle] Were They Really Falun Gong Practitioners?
Let¡¯s examine the man who set himself on fire.
Falun Gong requires practitioners to sit with both legs crossed while meditating. The position is called the full lotus position. Beginners are allowed to sit in half lotus position, with just one leg crossed over the other. As we can see in the video, the man Xinhua claims to be a Falun Gong practitioner is not even sitting with one leg crossed. The media reported that Wang Jindong had been practicing Falun Gong since 1996. Isn¡¯t it strange that he is unable to sit in the full lotus position?
When we compare this man to a photo provided by the government, which shows Wang prior to the self-immolation, we can see that the scalp line of the self-immolator is very neat all the way across the top of his forehead; we can¡¯t see his hairline. It even looks like he might be wearing a wig or a mask. It is common knowledge that human hair burns very easily and quickly. Wouldn¡¯t his hair be one of the first things to burn? How can it be so neat after he was engulfed by flames?
Could Wang Jindong be wearing fireproof clothing? He looks bundled up, as if he¡¯s wearing layers of extra clothes.
Notice the plastic Sprite bottle between the man¡¯s legs. It looks brand new as if the flames never touched it. Government officials claim that Wang Jindong drank gasoline from the Sprite bottle before he set himself on fire, and that he was very seriously burned. How is it possible that a plastic bottle filled with gasoline, encompassed by a burning man¡¯s legs, remains in perfect condition?
Another alleged self-immolator, Liu Baorong, was never mentioned in the news agency¡¯s first report, and there is no footage to show she was in Tiananmen Square. She claimed she was prepared to self-immolate but changed her mind at the last minute when she saw the others burning.
[Liu, Baorong] ¡°I drank about half a bottle, and wanted to pour the rest on my body¡±
Drinking one tenth of an ounce of gasoline per pound of body weight will cause death. For her weight, half a bottle of gasoline would be enough to kill her.
There are more discrepancies in the stories reported by the Xinhua News Agency. One involves Liu Chunling, who was the self-immolator apparently knocked down by a stick-like object thrown at her. According to a detailed government report dated January 30th titled, ¡°Documentary of Self-Immolation,¡± Ms. Liu started practicing Falun Gong before March 1999, before the Chinese government launched the persecution of Falun Gong.
However, a story published by the Washington Post reveals a different fact. Phillip Pan, the Washington Post reporter who wrote the story, went to Ms. Liu¡¯s hometown in Kaifeng City, Henan Province, to find out more about her. Ms. Liu¡¯s neighbors told him they had never seen her practice Falun Gong.
[Subtitle] What Was the Hospital Covering Up?
Standard medical procedure dictates that patients with large areas of burned skin to be placed in an isolated, sterile room, because the burned area needs to be exposed to the air. This prevents infection and makes it easier for the nurse to apply medication and clean the wounds. Doctors and nurses treating these patients are required to wear masks and sterile clothing when entering the room.
Yet, when we look at the CCTV footage, we see that the patient is in an open room. We also see that the patient is wrapped in thick layers of gauze bandages and that the nurse is not wearing a mask. Neither is the reporter wearing a mask, gloves, or any sterile clothing. Why would a patient in such critical condition with such serious burns be treated so casually?
Since its introduction to the public in 1992, Falun Gong has been spread in over 50 countries. In the 7 years prior to the onset of the persecution, there had never been a single case of self-immolation among Falun Gong practitioners in China, nor has it ever been know to happen to any practitioners outside China.
Since July of 1999, Falun Gong practitioners have endured the vicious persecution waged by the Jiang Zemin regime. Practitioners have been fined exorbitant amounts, fired from jobs, expelled from school, beaten and gang raped by police, held captive and drugged in mental hospitals, and even tortured to death. The state-controlled media has launched a massive slander campaign that includes trying to link Falun Gong with cults that believe in suicide and killing. This is despite the fact that the teachings of Falun Gong prohibit violence, suicide, and killing of any kind. Because of their deep convictions, Falun Gong practitioners have always appealed in a totally rational, peaceful, and non-violent way.
The purpose of this apparent staging of multiple self-immolations is clearly to incite hatred among the Chinese people toward Falun Gong practitioners and to discredit Falun Gong in the eyes of the world. However, all information about the self-immolations that occurred in Tiananmen Square was blocked. Access to the victims and the scene after the incident was restricted. Only Chinese government officials were allowed to conduct any investigation. The interviews of the victims, conducted by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, resulted only in more questions about the authenticity of the self-immolations and further speculation about the role that Jiang¡¯s regime had in orchestrating it. No third-party investigation has ever been allowed to uncover the true facts.
The horror of this self-immolation incident truly reveals the lengths that the Jiang Zemin regime will go to in its attempt to wipe out the practice of Falun Gong.