The mother of a 25-year-old Falun Gong follower who set himself on fire and died in Beijing Friday says cult leader Li Hongzhi is responsible for her son's death.
"It is the Falun Gong cult that has killed my son. Give back my son, Li Hongzhi," said grieving Wu Sixi, mother of Tan Yihui, who at noon Friday doused himself with gasoline in western Beijing then ignited the fuel. He died at the scene.
Wu said her son, a shoe polisher in Changde city, central China's Hunan province, told her on February 14 that he was going to Guangzhou to find work and asked to her give him 300 yuan.
"We got up at 7:30 am the next day. He left without saying good-bye to me, as he had done in the past. I never thought he wouldn't come back," she said tearfully.
When notified Friday afternoon of her son's death, Wu collapsed. "My son is dead. Now I feel like killing myself too," she said.
Wu is disabled and has long lived in poverty. She said she has denied herself food and new clothes to provide for her son.
"Yihui used to help me with the washing when he came home from work," Wu said. "As my left leg is disabled, he helped me get downstairs whenever he was at home." To support the family, Tan Yihui had been a door keeper at a local video parlor and also a shoe polisher.
Friends and family said that Tan's behavior changed significantly when he began to practice Falun Gong in 1999, making him moody and irrational. At first, he practiced Falun Gong in a local park. After neighborhood committee officials persuaded him to stop, he meditated at home.
"I persuaded him to do as the government said and distance himself from Falun Gong, but he turned a deaf ear, saying it would help him get into heaven. Moreover, he intended to make his younger brother practice with him. I stopped him from doing that," his mother recalled.
"My son has died. It is a sin committed by Falun Gong. The cult not only killed my son, it ruined my family," she said.