Review | An Eyewitness Recalls the “Self-Immolation” Incident on Tiananmen Square
(Minghui.org) This article was first published on November 21, 2004
Three years ago, on January 23, 2001, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s mouthpiece Central China Television (CCTV) broadcast the self-immolation incident shortly after it took place on Tiananmen Square. With the deaths of some self-immolators, the incident instigated people's extreme hatred towards and fear of Falun Gong. Since then, many couldn't help but feel afraid and resentful whenever Falun Gong is mentioned.
But not everyone has fallen victim to the CCP's lies against Falun Gong. Some analyzed the slow-motion scenes of the self-immolation footage shown on CCTV and found many suspicious points. The self-immolation turned out to be a carefully staged incident designed to deceive the public and frame Falun Gong. Lies will eventually be debunked. Below I share a story told by an eyewitness to the self-immolation.
It was the third day of the Indiana State Cultural Festival. I was preparing to leave around 9:00 p.m. as all the stands were about to pack up, when I saw five young volunteers in T-shirts with the words “Chinese Culture in Indianapolis” coming towards me. These young people had different expressions from other young Chinese I had met before, and they pointed out that the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance promoted by Falun Gong were good. I started to talk with them. When I mentioned the staged self-immolation event at Tiananmen Square, one of the young men interjected, “I have to say something about this, because I was there at the time.” The following is his eyewitness description:
“It was about 2:00 p.m. The weather was bad, and very few tourists were on the square [Tiananmen Square]. The police forced eight of us college students over to one side of the Monument of Heroes, but we didn’t know why. Shortly thereafter we heard an unusual sound less than 10 meters away, and then we saw a ball of fire. The fireball was running. Within a minute a lot of policemen suddenly appeared and put out the fire with fire extinguishers and blankets. Someone was shouting slogans, and for a while the policemen were in a tangle with the burning body. We had no idea what was happening and just craned our necks to try to see, but we were driven off a great distance by the police.
“One of my classmates said, ‘Where is that strong gasoline smell coming from?’ Another answered, ‘Certainly it was gasoline that was burning.’ As we turned back, we saw four people pass by, all drenched in gasoline. No sooner had we grasped what was happening than we heard the sound of the gasoline igniting, and all four people were on fire. Meanwhile, a large group of police rushed out from behind the monument, carrying extinguishers, fire-blankets, or boards. They quickly began to extinguish the fire and, at the same time, blocked our view with the boards. We were all surprised and exclaimed, ‘They’ve got everything prepared; they were ready for the fire!’ ‘Maybe there will be some coverage on TV tonight,’ commented a classmate. The police put out the fires quickly, but we saw no ambulances arriving. Some tourists, including foreigners, took pictures. The police rushed to take their cameras no matter who they were. We could not figure out what was going on and never thought to relate those burning people to Falun Gong.
“Another time, an honest-looking fellow in my class was stopped by the police in the underground passage near Tiananmen Square. They ordered him to read a sentence slandering Falun Gong on a piece of paper they handed him. He asked, ‘Why?’ ‘If you don’t,’ they said, ‘we will arrest you as a Falun Gong member.’ He was very scared, so he read it and then ran away.
‘When we went touring on the Great Wall, the police put the photo of Falun Gong’s founder on the ground and ordered the tourists to step on it. Anyone who refused would be arrested. They clearly knew that Falun Gong people followed Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance and would not step on it against their conscience. They used such an insidious method to catch Falun Gong people. One of my classmates from Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, was sentenced to 10 years for practicing Falun Gong, and he is still in jail now.”
After he finished his account, he reminded me, “Be careful, man. Don’t go back to China now because they will arrest you. That is true. The police there are up to no good. I know your practice and have read Zhuan Falun.”
Another one cautiously asked me, “Some people have negative opinions of your teacher, and I have no idea if it is true or not. I want to hear your opinion of your teacher.”
“As a matter of fact,” I said, “it is not like what they said. Our teacher told us,
‘In fact, I keep teaching people to conduct themselves with Truthfulness, Benevolence, and Forbearance as their guiding principles. So naturally, I have also been setting an example.’ (“Some Thoughts of Mine,” Essentials for Further Advancement II)”
Before they left, they told me, “We believe in you and support you. You Falun Gong people are great, like Gandhi.”