The Tragedy of Falun Gong Practitioners
Families of Tragedy Victims Condemn Cult

Looking at the smiling faces in a picture hanging on the wall of a four-room apartment, 78-year-old Huo Xiuzhen feels as if a knife has pierced her heart - the people in those photos will never smile again.

Huo is the adoptive mother of Liu Chunling, 36, a Falun Gong practitioner who set herself on fire and burned to death on January 23, the eve of the traditional Chinese Lunar New Year.

Liu's 12-year-old daughter, Liu Siying, accompanied her mother in the self-immolation on Tian'anmen Square and now lies in a Beijing hospital, with severe burns on her face, head and hands.

"I never thought Siying's life would be ruined by her own mother," Huo said through tears.

Liu Chunling had lived with her daughter and her adoptive mother ever since she divorced her husband in 1989.

"She treated me well at the beginning," Huo recalled. "But our quiet life was changed two years ago when she became obsessed with Falun Gong."

According to Huo, Liu ceased caring for her daughter and spent the majority of her time worshipping a portrait of Li Hongzhi, founder of the Falun Gong cult. When Liu did spend time with her child, it was only in an effort to bring the little girl into the Falun Gong fold.

"My daughter began to quarrel with me, and even tried to drive me away from home," Huo said.

"Li Hongzhi and his Falun Gong have done people great harm," she cried. "They have ruined my daughter and grand-daughter."

Joining Liu Chunling and Liu Siying in the Lunar New Year's Eve attempted suicide spectacle were another mother-daughter pair, Hao Huijun and Chen Guo.

Hao Huijun, 47, graduated from Henan University in 1974.

According to her younger sister, Cui Li, Hao used to be a friendly and warm-hearted career woman, but she changed after joining the Falun Gong.

Cui claims her sister ceased talking to or caring for other family members, and often sat staring blankly.

Last March, Hao was sent to a mental hospital for schizophrenia treatment. According to hospital sources, she refused upon arrival to take medicine or receive injections and left the hospital days later.

Hao then supposedly asked local police to send her to prison, which she described as "a temple" in which she could cultivate herself according to Falun Gong rules.

Hao's younger sisters later helped her move into her mother's home, where she lived for several months and where, last October, she was found burning pictures of her family members.

She sold her apartment that same month.

Cui said the last time she saw Hao was at noon on January 16. According to Cui, Hao brought the family some steamed bread and then disappeared.

Friends and family searched for her over the next few days, Cui said, but few expected she had travelled to Beijing because she left her ID card and her warm coat at home.

"Falun Gong rescues no people at all. It was designed to hurt people, damage their lives, and push them to death. My sister and niece became the sacrificial lambs of Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong," Cui said.

Hao's 19-year-old daughter Chen Guo, who burned along with her mother on January 23, was a student at Beijing-based Central Conservatory of Music, where she specialized in the pipa.

"She would have had a promising future if she had not been addicted to Falun Gong," Cui observed.

Liu Baorong was luckier than Hao. She tried to set herself on fire along with the other Falun Gong practitioners, but failed thanks to swift police action. "It was the police who saved me," she said after the tragedy.

Lu Jinjun, her husband, could be seen shaking with indignation upon learning of what had happened.

"Falun Gong is a kind of sugar-coated slow poison," he said. "This tragedy clearly demonstrates that Li Hongzhi is trying to sell his poison to kindhearted people in the name of so-called science."

Liu, a textile factory worker who left her post due to an industrial injury in 1984, began practicing Falun Gong in 1997.

Liu disappeared from her home on January 16.

According to Lu, his first thought when he came home and found his wife gone was that she had gone to her hometown in Shandong Province.

Neither he nor his children knew of Liu's whereabouts until they learned about the attempted suicide on Spring Festival Eve.

"As relatives of a Falun Gong victim, we strongly request the government to uproot the cult," Lu said.

Another Falun Gong member who was prevented from setting himself on fire was 58-year-old Liu Yunfang. Police found him walking on Tian'anmen Square with two bottles of gasoline, which they promptly confiscated.

Li Qiuli, Liu Yunfang's wife, said the whole family felt gratitude towards the government for saving her husband.

Like other Falun Gong practitioners who participated in the January 23 incident, Liu Yunfang became silent and seemingly apathetic after joining the cult.

Liu Heng, Liu Yunfang's son, claimed his father stuck Falun Gong stickers on the electronic appliances and furniture in the family home and seldom talked about anything else. Father and son allegedly had a number of quarrels about the Falun Gong.

"We are waiting for him," Li Qiuli said with tears in her eyes. "He will not be discriminated against by society so long as he returns from the lost way and breaks completely with the Falun Gong."

In another development, a group composed of non-Communist political parties, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and a number of outstanding figures without party affiliation condemned the Falun Gong on Wednesday for organizing and inspiring the suicide attempts.

The group claimed the Falun Gong had demonstrated itself to be "anti-humanity, anti-society and anti-science."

(Xinhua 02/02/2001)