(Minghui.org) Twenty years ago, on January 23, 2001, while countless Chinese families gathered for the Chinese New Year, the Chinese communist regime broadcast a shocking report that claimed that five people had set themselves on fire that day on Tiananmen Square, and that all of them were Falun Gong practitioners.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual discipline based on the universal principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. It was introduced to the public in May 1992 and quickly spread all over China. By 1999, an estimated 100 million—nearly one tenth of the population—were practicing it. Many had their terminal diseases cured and their health restored. Others have said Falun Gong gave them hope, elevated their character, and turned them into better people.

Despite how much the country benefited from Falun Gong, the Chinese Communist Party, a totalitarian regime, saw Falun Gong’s quick rise and revival of traditional Chinese values as an enormous threat to their agenda: to instill hatred and struggle into its people. Thus, on July 20, 1999, a brutal campaign “to wipe out Falun Gong in China in three months” was launched.

The “Tiananmen immolation” report was broadcast about a year and a half later. Before that, not one single incident of violence was reported in the practitioners’ peaceful efforts to counteract the persecution. However unjustly they were treated or brutally tortured, they still followed Falun Gong’s principles and never fought back.

So the claim that Falun Gong practitioners set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square left many people in shock. For most of the general public, although they had sympathy for Falun Gong before that, the appalling “self-immolation” incident played that New Year’s eve completely stifled any thoughts of siding with Falun Gong. When the incident was played repeatedly on every TV channel over the next few weeks, Falun Gong quickly became a national taboo, and many people came to despise Falun Gong.

But for those who still questioned the authenticity of the incident, a careful examination of the news footage revealed many flaws. First of all, the fact that comprehensive reports with videos shot from multiple angles were being broadcast a mere two hours after the incident indicated careful planning; the woman who they claimed died at the scene was seen on the video falling over after a man hit her in the head with an object; and it was very strange that the police officers patrolling Tiananmen Square just happened to be carrying blankets and fire extinguishers, which they used to put out the fire after the incident began.

A Washington Post investigation indicated that the woman mentioned above was never seen by her neighbors practicing Falun Gong, and that according to the daughter’s college classmate, the mother and daughter who died at the scene had stopped practicing Falun Gong before the persecution started.

Having endured decades of political struggles under the Chinese communist regime, from the “Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns” to the “Cultural Revolution,” from the “Tiananmen massacre” to the persecution of Falun Gong, the Chinese have learned to hide their own opinions and passively accept everything the regime says, to protect themselves.

But that broadcast was only the beginning of a massive propaganda campaign to slander Falun Gong. The staged “self-immolation” soon appeared in elementary school textbooks. Students were organized into groups to sign petitions to boycott Falun Gong. Even on exams, students were coerced into criticizing Falun Gong in order to pass.

For many of the younger generation who were born around or after the “Tiananmen massacre” in 1989 and never experienced the communist regime’s political slaughter, accepting the “self-immolation” hoax as fact was a default. At home, due to their parents’ self-censorship, such topics weren’t discussed either.

After being exposed to this slander again and again, many of these young minds grew up resenting and fearing Falun Gong. Twenty years have passed, and those in this young generation are entering their 30s and establishing their own families. Yet they bring the fallout from that barrage of propaganda with them and pass it down to the next generation.

Now, with humanity at an unprecedented historic crossroads, this propaganda may be what ultimately prevents innocent people from seeing through the deceit, or keeps them from making a conscious positive choice for their future.

Despite unimaginable suffering over the past 22 years, Falun Gong practitioners have never given up. They still uphold their faith and peacefully spread the facts with the hope of awakening people. It’s their most sincere wish that the Chinese people pause for a moment in their busy lives, take a look at what Falun Gong really is, and no longer side with the communist regime in its brutal persecution of this peaceful spiritual group.

The videos below present a detailed analysis of the “self-immolation” incident.

False Fire

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

A short video exposing the self-immolation hoax (currently in Chinese only) is available for view: