The Tragedy of Falun Gong Practitioners
Suicide Reveals Cult's 'Evil Nature'

The suicide attempts of seven Falun Gong practitioners at Tian'anmen Square on January 23 demonstrate the "evil nature" of the cult and "sounded an alarm to those obsessed" with it, Xinhua news agency said yesterday.

The official news agency made the comment in a long feature story describing the event, which happened on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year in central Beijing.

The central and local televisions yesterday evening broadcast camera footage of followers engulged in flame and police rushing to put them out with fire extinguishers. They also aired interviews of two survivors, including a 12-year-old girl in a Beijing hospital.

Five Falun Gong practitioners soaked themselves in gasoline and set themselves on fire at around 2:40 p.m. and one died on the spot and the four others injured in the suicide attempts, Xinhua reported. The police on duty rushed to their rescue and immediately sent the injured to a local hospital.

Another two were found and stopped from the suicide attempts.

At 2:41 p.m., a man in his 40s sitting cross-legged at Tian'anmen Square was found pouring liquid over his body from a green bottle. All of a sudden, his body burst into flames and was covered with thick smoke. "Falun Dafa is compulsory to all," the man was screaming.

A few minutes later, three women and a girl who were not far from the man set themselves on fire. Blown by the cold winter wind, the flames immediately spread, turning them into scurrying fireballs in horrible screams.

"Uncle, help!" cried a short, slim girl on fire when police rushed towards them. Almost simultaneously, on the northeastern side of the square, a woman took out a plastic Sprite bottle, drank a few mouthfuls of the liquid, and then poured it on herself. Police on duty, who were alert at the strong smell of gasoline, were quick to seize her lighter and stopped her from burning herself. The woman kept yelling "let me go to heaven."

On the western side of the square, a man, looking agitated and with the buttons of his overcoat unfastened, was discovered with two full bottles of gasoline tied to his body. Police also prevented him from setting himself ablaze.

It took one minute and a half for police to put out the fire on the four famales. However, one woman died and the other three, including the 12-year-old girl, were seriously burned.

Three emergency ambulances of the Beijing First-aid Center arrived at the site less than seven minutes later and rushed the injured to the prestigious Beijing Jishuitan Hospital, Xinhua reported.

A rescue team was formed and special wards were prepared for around-the-clock monitoring. Doctors and nurses on holiday returned to work immediately.

Thanks to the efforts of the doctors, all the injured have passed the shock stage, Xinhua said.

Police investigation showed that the seven people who attempted suicide were from Kaifeng City in central China's Henan Province. They were all avid Falun Gong practitioners.

The dead woman, Liu Chunling, had been obsessed with Falun Gong herself and persuaded her 12-year-old daughter Liu Siying to pursue the cult.

Wang Jindong, the organizer, started practicing Falun Gong in 1996. Wang and his wife and kid came to Tian'anmen Square on December 19, 2000, to propagate Falun Gong with banners.

Hao Huijun, a music teacher with a middle school in Kaifeng, has become silent and absent-minded since 1997 when she started practicing Falun Gong. Influenced by Hao, her 19-year-old daughter Chen Guo who studied Pipa, a traditional Chinese musical instrument, in Beijing also practiced Falun Gong and was obsessed with the cult.

Liu Baorong, a textile factory worker who left her post due to an industrial injury in 1984, began practicing Falun Gong in 1995.

"Everyone of us knew what we were going to do in Beijing before we left Kaifeng," Liu confirmed, "We were prepared to set ourselves on fire and going up to heaven.

"Li Hongzhi often mentioned in his 'scripture' and speeches that there were still some people not 'standing out.' If I did not 'stand out', I would not realize 'nirvana,"' said Liu, who believed that to obtain "nirvana" was to go to heaven.

"It was a good thing to go to heaven," she said, "It took a mere moment and one would not feel pain."

For this purpose, Liu drank gasoline.

Li Chi, a chief doctor at the Beijing hospital, said that it was still too early to say that all the injured were out of danger. They will undergo further operations. The fire has severely debilitated all of them and some of them will never be able to live on their own in the future, Li added.

( 01/31/2001)