20th Anniversary of the Self-Immolation Hoax: Heroes Expose the Truth via TV Interception
(Minghui.org) Minghui is a multilingual website that publishes firsthand information on Falun Gong, a meditation practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance that has been persecuted in China since July 1999.
In the past week, Minghui has published many articles to review the self-immolation incident that was staged by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on January 23, 2001. Since then, the incident has been the single most devastating lie that the CCP has used to defame and demonize Falun Gong, and to justify its persecution of the peaceful practice.
Here, we would like to review the context of the self-immolation hoax, key facts, and courageous efforts by practitioners to debunk the lies against Falun Gong, as well as the harsh retaliation against practitioners for clarifying the truth.
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We always want to learn from history. But when history presents itself in front of us, we often ignore it. Two of the most notorious regimes in the past century, for examples, were Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Both of them used massive propaganda campaigns to censor information, brainwash, and deceive people in order to achieve their agendas.
Josef Goebbels, who was assigned by Hitler to impose ideological uniformity on Germany, said that Nazism “was an all-embracing creed and ‘the propagandist must be the man with the greatest knowledge of souls’. Every field of German life was to be ploughed and harrowed,” reported a March 2017 article from The Guardian titled “Death of truth: when propaganda and ‘alternative facts’ first gripped the world.”
As a result, Goebbels attacked “decadent” art and supervised the burning of books purloined from public libraries, “intellectual brothels.” “The press was regulated. The church was intimidated. Academe succumbed to discipline,” the article continued.
A similar situation happened in the former Soviet Union. “Stalin’s assault on reality was equally grotesque, though it scarcely seemed more so than his policy of exporting grain when millions of Russian peasants were starving. He, too, insisted that the truth was what he said it was, endorsing the bogus science of the agronomist Trofim Lysenko, denouncing the mathematician Nikolai Luzin as a wrecker, and killing astronomers for taking a non-Marxist line on sunspots,” wrote the article, “Conjuring with the dialectic, Stalin maintained that the greatest saboteurs were those who committed no sabotage and that the monstrous apparatus of Soviet repression assisted the withering away of the state.”
Unfortunately, the CCP, which controls a much larger population with a much stronger economy, has surpassed both Hilter and Stalin especially in terms of exploiting all kinds of state-of-the-art surveillance, censorship, and disinformation tools, both inside China and around the world.
Inside China, what 1.4 billion people read, watch, and hear is distorted information with “alternative facts.” If there is a way to inform them of the facts, shouldn't that be considered?
Refueled Fire of Hatred
The staged self-immolation incident took place at Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001, Chinese New Year's eve. Several hours later, the incident was broadcast in the prime time news hour as countless families happily gathered in front of the TV waiting to watch the New Year Gala hosted by China Central Television (CCTV). Without investigation or explanation, the CCP bluntly claimed the five people who set themselves on fire in the incident were Falun Gong practitioners.
This tragedy shocked the nation. Up to that day, people had been aware of the CCP's persecution of Falun Gong that began in July 1999, but many had been sympathetic to Falun Gong practitioners for their plight. After all, with almost 7% of the Chinese population practicing Falun Gong, many people had exposure to the practice either directly or indirectly. However, when the vivid scenes of the self-immolation incident and the well-crafted narratives flooded across various news media, public sympathy for Falun Gong quickly turned to hatred and fear.
As a result, those who had dismissed the persecution earlier on became quiet, those who had supported Falun Gong turned hostile, and once supportive family members of Falun Gong practitioners began to oppose the practice. In the massive campaigns and signature drives launched by the CCP to denounce Falun Gong, many people had forgotten how the regime had launched similar disinformation campaigns in the past few decades to attack innocent citizens, from landlords to capitalists to intellectuals.
While adults were subjected to brainwashing by the self-immolation lies, the CCP also targeted children. Children at the time of the self-immolation incident were too young to know how people had been wronged in the past political movements. Neither their parents nor grandparents had explained to them those “sensitive” political issues. While parents were busy caring for their children’s health, diet, and study, they did not expect that the CCP had written the self-immolation incident into textbooks. During the past twenty years since the self-immolation incident, such textbooks have poisoned numerous young minds and made them think that Falun Gong had driven people to set themselves on fire.
Children back then have grown into adults and some have had their own kids, but the hatred towards Falun Gong has been deeply rooted in their mind, leaving them numb to the persecution and unwilling to accept the fact that the CCP's lies, violence and brutality is harming innocent people.
This is not a trivial issue. Since ancient times, Chinese civilization has been inspired by the divine culture. As a result, people in general cherished virtue and had faith in being good. After the CCP took power decades ago, it had successfully destroyed traditional values and led the nation towards greed, chaos, and moral corruption. As the single largest group persecuted by the CCP, Falun Gong promotes the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance which helps restore the moral values of society.
By suppressing Falun Gong and turning the public against the practice, the CCP had essentially burned the bridge for China to rejoin the thousands-year long civilization and the common good.
Falun Gong practitioners realized the danger people faced when they were deceived by the CCP's self-immolation lies and turned against Falun Gong. After all, those who persecute the innocent will eventually be held accountable. In order to prevent people from assisting the CCP in persecuting Falun Gong, numerous Falun Gong practitioners risked their lives exposing the CCP's lies.
Loopholes of Video Analysis
Slow motion analyses of the videos played in CCTV found many suspicious points and indicated the self-immolation incident was a hoax that defamed Falun Gong.
For example, Ms. Liu Chunling was claimed to have been burned to death in the incident. She was a key figure since her daughter was also involved in the incident. Video analysis indicated that Liu actually died from being hit by a heavy object wielded by a man in a military coat.
Chinese police are not known for caring about the lives of ordinary citizens, as was shown in the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. But in this self-immolation case, police officers produced more than 20 fire extinguishers and blankets – instead of tear gas and guns – moments after the incident. In fact, police do not usually carry fire extinguishers or blankets while patrolling the vast Tiananmen Square.
Liu Siying, 12, was the daughter of Liu Chunling. She was reported to have extensive burns and was hospitalized. Four days after her trachea was surgically cut open, however, she was interviewed by a CCTV reporter and even sang a song. This defied medical common sense.
Several survivors including Liu Siying were claimed to be suffering from severe burns over large areas of their bodies. If so, ventilation is normally required along with strict infection controls, to facilitate recovery. But from reports by CCTV and other media, all of these victims were tightly wrapped up with many layers of gauze in Beijing’s Jishuitan Hospital. No precautions were in place, even when reporters approached them in close proximity.
One of the victims was claimed to be Wang Jindong. Although his clothing was heavily burned, his hair was fine, as was the Sprite bottle allegedly containing gasoline between his legs.
Philip Pan from the Washington Post published an article on February 4, 2001, titled “Human Fire Ignites Chinese Mystery.” As Pan visited Liu Chunling’s hometown in Kaifeng City, Henan Province, her neighbors told him no one had ever seen Liu practicing Falun Gong.
International Educational Development (IED) raised this issue at a United Nations conference on August 14, 2001. The organization condemned the CCP’s state terrorism and pointed out that the staged self-immolation incident was a setup to frame Falun Gong. It also indicated that the incident involved deceit and killing. Based on video analysis, IED believed that the incident had been staged by Chinese authorities.
When Li Yuqiang, a reporter from CCTV who covered the self-immolation, went to “talk” with practitioners detained at the Hebei Province Law Education Center (a brainwashing facility) in early 2002, practitioners raised the suspicious points about the self-immolation incident. Li admitted some of the footage came from re-shooting. She said officials would not have done so if they knew the loopholes (such as Wang's Sprite bottle didn't burn) would be found out.
Retaliation for Exposing the Facts
While the CCP used its state apparatus to spread lies about Falun Gong, the regime blocked all legal channels for Falun Gong practitioners to voice their concerns and defend themselves. In order to expose the CCP's lies and to prevent more people from being poisoned by the lies, Falun Gong practitioners used creative means, including intercepting TV signals, to clarify the truth to the public. While practitioners had no formal schooling or training to do TV interception, they had truth, courage, and compassion backing them during the whole process.
Changchun City, Jilin Province
The television interception in Changchun City, Jilin Province on March 5, 2002, lasted about 50 minutes. Up to one million residents learned how Falun Gong had been well-received around the world and how the CCP had staged the self-immolation incident to defame Falun Gong.
The CCP immediately started retaliating against practitioners. Over 5,000 Changchun practitioners were arrested. Dr. Liu Haibo, a physician at Luyuan District Hospital, was beaten to death. He was 34.
Similarly, practitioners who did television interception in other regions in China were also met with harsh retaliation.
Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province
Several practitioners in Hegang City of Heilongjiang Province intercepted television signals for about 20 minutes on April 20, 2002. They included Mr. Zhang Yaoming, Mr. Wang Shusen, Mr. Guo Zhongquan, Mr. Guo Xingguo, and Mr. Yang Yongying.
Zhang Xingfu, Party secretary of Hegang City, was furious and ordered to arrest as many practitioners as possible. “We would rather arrest 1,000 innocent people than miss one practitioner,” he ordered. In a short time, over 500 practitioners were arrested in the city.
Mr. Wang Shusen, around 50, was sentenced to 18 years in October 2002. He was an energetic middle-aged man before his imprisonment, but by the time he was released, he had become a toothless old man with a hunched back.
Mr. Guo Xingwang was given 15 years. He was tortured to the verge of death and released on medical parole in 2009. He died one month later that year, on June 3.
Mr. Guo Zhongquan was given 13 years.
Shuangyang District, Changchun City, Jilin Province
On May 19, 2002, Mr. Liu Haixiao and several practitioners in Changchun City, Jilin Province intercepted television signals in Shuangyang District. Mr. Liu and Mr. Li Haixiao were both sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment, while Mr. Wu Zilong received a term of 13 years.
Guiyang City, Guizhou Province
Practitioners in Guiyang, capital city of Guizhou Province, successfully intercepted television signals twice in 2002, once on July 9 and another time on October 19. It lasted about two hours each time and helped nearly 100,000 people in the region to learn the real story of Falun Gong.
Several interception incidents occurred in Beijing. On June 23, 2002, several channels in CCTV had programs exposing the persecution of Falun Gong. On August 12, 2003, Channel 3 of Beijing Educational TV Station broadcast a program listing Jiang Zemin’s crime of persecuting Falun Gong. On November 20, 2004 and May 1, 2007, videos and words in favor of Falun Gong appeared in Beijing TV (BTV) programs.
The retaliation was fierce. After practitioner Ms. Meng Lan was detained in 2002, she was brutally tortured and forced to give blood samples twice a week. Fengtai Police Department chief Wang also threatened to remove her organs for sale to transplant patients.
The Fengtai Court in Beijing sentenced numerous practitioners in August 2003 for distributing pamphlets and “attempting” to intercept TV signals. Among them, Ms. Huang Jian was sentenced to 12-year imprisonment, while Mr. Wei Shijun, Mr. Ma Jun, and Mr. Li Kai each received 11.5 years. All of these practitioners were sent to the Qianjin Prison.
Ms. Wang Guiqing and Ms. Sun Jingping (in her 30s and a polio sufferer) received 8 and 7 years, respectively. Both were sent to the Beijing Women’s Prison. Because Ms. Huang Jian refused to renounce her belief, she was put in a metal cage with circulating electricity. If she moved even a bit, she was shocked.
Seventeen practitioners in Hebei Province intercepted television signals on August 27, 2002. They started in Baoding City and expanded to Hengshui, Cangzhou, Laishui, Yi County, Zhuozhou and Gaobeidain in the same province. They successfully broadcast three videos about Falun Gong in those places.
The 17 practitioners included Mr. Li Feng from Anguo City, Mr. Han Weixin from Anxin City, Mr. Zhang Yanqing from Gaobeidian, Ms. Chen Shufen from Boye, Mr. Wang Xianghui from Li County, Mr. Li Aige from Xiong County, Mr. Ma Zengjun, Ms. Fu Shuling from Yi County, Mr. Zhang Liqun from Shenzhou, Mr. Xie Shuheng, Mr. Zhang Fuming, Ms. Xie Xiugai from Anping County, Ms. Xie Zhanfen from Renqiu City, Ms. Niu Minjie from Shijiazhuang City, Mr. Zhao Weimin, Mr. Fan Qingjun, and Mr. Guo Xiangyu from Xingtai City.
After the interceptions, nearly 100 practitioners were arrested between late August and December in Baoding City alone.
Qinghai and Gansu
Practitioners in Qinghai Province intercepted television signals on both August 17 and August 19, 2002, which lasted about half an hour each time and covered 80% of the viewers. An interception also happened in Baiyin City of Gansu Province on September 6, 2002, that continued for 15 minutes and reached more than 100,000 people.
Many practitioners were sentenced following the incident. Mr. Li Yuhai, a teacher from Jiayuguan City in Gansu Province, was sentenced to 14 years and kept at Jiuquan Prison. He was once injected with unknown drugs that severely damaged his central nervous system. For a period of time, he became insane.
On December 27, 2002, the Chengguan Court in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province, sentenced 7 practitioners to prison. Li Wenming, Wang Pengyun and Wei Junren each received 20 years, and Sun Zhaohai, Qiang Xiaoyi, Liu Zhirong and Su Anzhou were given terms ranging from 10 to 19 years.
The Baiyin District Court in Lanzhou City sentenced Zhang Guangli to 12 years and Chang Jubin 11 years.
On December 30, 2002, Zhang Rongjun was sentenced to 20 years, He Wanji to 17 years, Li Chongfeng to 15 years, and Duan Xiaoyan to 7 years. All these are practitioners in Xining City, Qinghai Province. Mr. He, in particular, was a police officer before his arrest. He was tortured to death in Haomen Prison on May 28, 2003. He was 53.
Duyun City, Guizhou Province
In Guizhou Province, Mr. Du Guilin in Duyun City was sentenced to 8 years in September 2002 for TV signal interception.
Around 8 p.m. on October 19, 2002, a local cable TV broadcast several Falun Gong programs for around two hours. Mr. Hu Dali, who participated in the TV interception, was sentenced to 10 years. He was tortured in Duyun Prison and ended up paralyzed and bruised. He died in January 2011.
On August 22, 2003, the Wudang Court sentenced 12 practitioners who participated in TV interception. The practitioners were given up to 16 years.
CNN reported on December 28, 2002, that, because of involvement in television and radio interception, 8 Falun Gong practitioners in Anhui Province were sentenced to up to 13 years.
Several practitioners in Morin Dawa Daur Banner, Inner Mongolia, intercepted television signals on October 23, 2003, and broadcast over 40 minutes of video exposing the self-immolation hoax. The practitioners involved were Mr. Wei Changfeng, Ms. Xia Xiuwen, and Ms. Cui Guifeng.
Jiang Zemin, former CCP head who ordered the persecution of Falun Gong, was shocked and directed Luo Gan, secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), to launch an investigation.
The Central 610 Office sent a task force to supervise the local 610 Office. Police ransacked local practitioners' homes, arresting more than 200 practitioners. Mr. Wei was sentenced to 13 years on October 29, 2003. After being shocked with electric batons and tortured on a tiger bench, Ms. Cui was sentenced to 4 years in prison. Ms. Xia was also given 4 years.
Sichuan Province and Chongqing
After TV interception in Chongqing (a centrally controlled municipality) in 2002, several practitioners were sentenced to prison: Ms. Jin Wei (16 years), Mr. Li Xiangdong (15 years), Ms. Su Jianqiu (9 years), and Mr. Li Wei (7 years).
Ms. Jin, who graduated from Southwest University, was held in Chongqing Women's Prison.
Ms. Liu Chunshu, a 45-year-old teacher, died in a forced labor camp on January 9, 2002. The local court sentenced her to 13 years after her death due to her involvement in TV interception.
Mr. Xu Weidong was sentenced to 10 years in May 2002.
Huoqiu County, Anhui Province
Mr. Zhang Jialin from Huoqiu County, Anhui Province, and 8 other practitioners had planned to intercept TV signals on May 31, 2002, but did not succeed. Cable network staff found the device and reported it to police. Mr. Zhang was sentenced to 12 years in 2002.
Sun Fangxi, an engineer at Anhui TV Station, was sentenced to 13 years for intercepting television signals and held in Suzhou Prison.
More TV Interception Cases
There are more cases like this. Mr. Zhang Xueming in Beijing, for example, was sentenced to 11 years in prison and sent to Baoanze Prison in Inner Mongolia.
On April 20, 2002, practitioners successfully broadcast Falun Gong informational programs simultaneously in Harbin, Daqing, Shuangcheng, Qiqihar, Mudanjiang, Jiamusi, Hegang, Shuangyashan, and Jixi, all cities in Heilongjiang Province.
Mr. Liu Haoming from Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province was sentenced to 11 years.
Mr. Huang Min, an instructor at Jiamusi University in Heilongjiang Province, credits Falun Gong for returning him to health and enabling him to teach again. He was sentenced to 20 years in 2002 for television interception. While serving time in Shandong Province Prison, he was subjected to intensive brainwashing. Starting in May 2004, three criminal inmates watched him around the clock and attempted to force him to give up his belief. In July 2017, his son traveled a long distance from Heilongjiang to Shandong and saw Mr. Huang, who was unable to walk. He was wheeled into the meeting room. He had slurred speech. His son requested his immediate release, but the prison refused.
Other Forms of Interception
Besides television, Falun Gong practitioners also informed the public of the CCP's persecution through radio, MP4 or MP5, and loudspeakers. There were success stories of radio interceptions in Dalian, Liaoning Province, as well as in Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province.
The contents also varied. Most of the interception above was exposing the self-immolation hoax and presenting the real story of Falun Gong. After the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party was published in 2004, some of the book's content was also included in the interception.
The video of the Nine Commentaries was played via a television network in Jinan City, Shandong Province, in March 2005. The program lasted over 10 minutes.
On August 9, 2005, a short video of quitting the CCP was broadcast in Guan County, Shandong Province. The same thing also happened in Linxi County, Hebei Province.
On September 18, 2005, practitioners broadcast Falun Gong programs for about half an hour in Yunnan Province, reaching about 20,000 residents.
On September 23, 2006, videos on Falun Gong and the Nine Commentaries were played via the television network in Yangzhou City, Jiangsu Province, which lasted several hours.
The Most Valuable
Above are some cases collected by Minghui. There are likely many more that are unreported. In a country with 1.4 billion people who are being deceived by the CCP's lies, day after day and year after year, fresh air is needed to help see through the communist ideology of brutality, hatred, and lies.
Below is a story received by Minghui.
In September 2002, two people were arguing with each other on the subway between Tiananmen Square and Wanshou Road in Beijing. They were about to come to blows.
“Come on, guys,” a passenger said. “It's such a hot day and everyone is having a difficult time. Why not calm down and give yourself a break?”
The two people at odds did stop arguing and sat down.
Someone asked the passenger, “Glad you said that. Tell me, why did you get involved?”
The passenger replied it was because he believed in the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance that he wanted to help people. “Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance – that is wonderful! We all like them!” people cheered.
It was said that this story made it to the CCP’s Central Committee and was taken as evidence that Luo Gan hadn't done a good job stopping Falun Gong. Plainclothes agents were then dispatched along the subway line to stop “Falun Gong activities.” But train passengers spotted the agents and said things like, “It's so hot. Why are you wasting your energy here? If you're capable, go catch corrupt officials!”
Many people still have a conscience and kindness in their hearts, which cannot be robbed by the CCP.
Now a new wave of coronavirus is ravaging the world and could be more severe than the first wave. How can one stay safe?
In ancient Chinese culture, people had always believed that plagues and other misfortunes were a result of people's moral decline and bad deeds. The advice had always been to return to traditional values and have reverence for the divine.
There are countless problems in society, from moral issues to the pandemic. As long as we have righteous faith and reject the totalitarian regime that suppresses innocent people, we will be blessed.