The Tragedy of Falun Gong Practitioners
Li Hongzhi Denies Suicide Victims Were His Followers

The leader of the evil Falun Gong cult has abandoned the obsessive followers who attempted suicide in Beijing's Tian'anmen Square on New Year's Eve.

Seven Falun Gong practitioners set fire to themselves in a bid to reach "nirvana," or heaven, on January 23. One died and the others, including a 12-year-old girl, were taken to hospital.

Knowing his followers carried out the suicide attempt in accordance with his own teachings, spiritual master Li Hongzhi has denied the incident had anything to do with him.

"We do not believe these people were Falun Gong practitioners," overseas spokesmen of the cult have said.

"Anyone who has read Falun Gong books will clearly see that their actions are foreign to genuine Falun Gong practitioners," a statement said.

Survivors of the incident at Jishuitan Hospital in Beijing, who are now in a stable condition, talked to two reporters from Xinhua, China's official news agency.

In the intensive care unit at the hospital, cult follower Hao Huijun, a 47-year-old woman who was formerly a music teacher in a middle school in the City of Kaifeng, central Henan Province, refused to believe the statement, which technically drives her out of the Falun Gong.

Asked what she felt about the statement, Hao said: "I have not read the statement myself."

Chen Guo, a 19-year-old college student involved in the incident, said she did not want to talk about Falun Gong again.

She was a talented pipa student at the Central Conservatory of Music.

Twelve-year-old survivor Liu Siying still does not know that her mother died in the incident.

She admitted she regretted the self-immolation.

"But I must do what my mother tells me," she said.

"Dare to be shot by machine guns, dare to burn yourself to death, my mother told me."

She sustained burns to 40 per cent of her body with much of it on her face, hands and genitals, and still has some belief in the cult.

Medical staff have not yet talked to the survivors because they were in such a serious condition, fearing any stress could affect their recovery.

Hao Huijun and Wang Jindong, who planned the suicide attempt, still trust in their "master" Li Hongzhi and are refusing to eat or receive medical treatment.

They repeatedly invoke Li's own instructions from his own books, claiming that fasting and self-seclusion are enough to cure their injuries.

One of Hao's doctors quoted him as saying: "Give me five days' fasting and meditation, I will recover from the burns. It is better than receiving your treatment."

To date, Hao has fasted twice, once for 36 hours, once for 24.

Another survivor of the cult incident, Wang, has been transferred to a police hospital after a preliminary recovery following five days' treatment at Jishuitan Hospital, which is famed for its treating burns patients.

"Despite them being stubborn Falun Gong practitioners, our medical workers have tried everything to save their lives and give them the best treatment," nurse Hai said.

Their emergency medical treatment has so far cost the government more than 236,000 yuan (US$28,400).

Head nurse He Xiaodong said the patients had got through the hardest time.

When first brought to the hospital, Chen Guo, the 19-year-old, took 50 minutes to eat a bowl of oats.

She says she hopes her classmates will visit her in hospital at the end of their winter holiday, but the Intensive Care Unit does not receive visitors.

(Xinhua 02/10/2001)