On January 23, 2001, it was reported that five people set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. It was alleged that these people wanted to protest the ban on Falun Gong by burning themselves to death. A week later, the Chinese government television station, CCTV, broadcast a program showing a videotape of the incident. The videotape was said to have been taken by the surveillance cameras in Tiananmen Square. We have deconstructed a copy of the CCTV tape and found a number of discrepancies that indicate the false nature of the report.

Key points from the video:

The video footage was shot from above and at ground level -- so the surveillance cameras on Tiananmen Square couldn't have taken it.

A person is seen filming the incident but the police do not stop him. Why was this person not prevented from filming in the same way that the CNN reporters were?

Many people near the incident stand motionless and uninvolved while people farther away are running to help.

The only person that died at the scene, Ms Liu, is struck from behind.

Police patrolling Tiananmen Square are carrying fire extinguishers and fire blankets -- this has never occurred before. (Reported by a European reporter in Beijing.)

The fire blanket is not placed on one gentleman until after he has spoken -- and the fire has already been extinguished.

In the initial news report 5 people were involved in the incident; yet a week later, it was reported that 7 people burned themselves and one was a 12-year-old girl.

CNN reporters on the scene only saw 5 people and none were children.

Additional points

Despite the fact that the film shows the burning people staggering around and holding their arms in a pseudo-Falun Gong exercise position, a close-up of one of the victims shows him sitting on the ground with a green plastic pop bottle between his legs. Why didn't the bottle melt from the heat of the flames?

This same person appears to be wearing an asbestos mask and his clothing is extremely well-padded.

The initial report was sent out from Xinhua News Agency within 4 hours of the incident, which was unusually quick; and yet the full video wasn't released until a week later. (Reported by the New York Times, 9 February 2001.)

Initial reports stated that the victims required tracheotomies to survive and yet they were able to give interviews to government personnel shortly after. An American physician stated that it would be physically impossible for a person with a tracheotomy to speak so soon after such surgery. (Reported by the Washington post 9 February 2001.)

No one outside of the government has been allowed to interview any of the survivors. (Reported by Jingrong Times, 2 February 2001.)

Why the immolators are not Falun Gong practitioners:

Killing of any kind, including suicide, is against our beliefs.

Thousands of practitioners before and after the incident have only used peaceful ways of appealing. Self-immolation is a hostile act and is totally out of character for a Falun Gong practitioner.

The woman that died was not known to be a practitioner of Falun Dafa. (Reported by the Washington Post, 3 February 2001.)

Questions raised by the incident:

Why did the police prevent CNN from filming the incident and confiscate the camera? Wouldn't the Chinese government want CNN to take pictures of the incident so that it could be broadcast to the world?

Why would those people go so far as to burn themselves to death in order to protest the ban on Falun Gong and then immediately renounce the practice when they survived?

Why isn't anyone allowed to talk to the participants?

The truth is that it looks like the whole incident was staged; no one has been allowed to investigate or confirm the allegations that the participants were Falun Gong practitioners. What kind of government would use its people this way? Why would the Jiang Zemin government do such a thing? Jiang Zemin wants people to believe that Falun Gong is something bad, which would justify his persecution of the practice and has the added benefit of turning public opinion against Falun Gong. He used a 12-year-old girl to raise public sympathy and vilify Falun Gong. He used five adults in a heinous plan and had the young girl's mother killed. Of course people in China were upset. The consequences included gangs of villagers going to practitioner's homes, forcing their way in, and demanding that the people denounce Falun Gong. Some criminals robbed and beat people. The police didn't interfere if the victims were reported to be Falun Gong practitioners. All this puts a very bad light on Jiang Zemin and his regime as it shows how far he will go to discredit Falun Gongincluding using and injuring China's citizens and staging such a horrible and upsetting event. We feel a lot of sympathy for those poor souls who were used by Jiang Zemin. I cannot fully express the compassion we feel for those people and for the millions of Falun Gong practitioners who are still suffering under the persecution of Jiang's regime. We hope that watching this videotape will help you draw your own conclusions and that you will not be taken in by the unconscionable staging of a tragic event. Falun Gong practitioners would never kill themselves and were not involved in the alleged self-immolation.