NEW YORK - Tiananmen Square set the stage in 1989 for the late Zhao Ziyang to be deposed. The same setting was the stage for another black day in Chinese history just four years ago.
On January 23, 2001, a small group of people apparently set themselves on fire. The state-run Xinhua news agency reported the incident with unusual speed, claiming that the immolators were practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.
Yet evidence shows that this incident was staged, a ploy used to turn public opinion against a group already persecuted for their beliefs.
“Media, including the major media in the West, have often stated as fact that Falun Gong practitioners were the self-immolators,” says Levi Browde, Falun Dafa Infocenter spokesperson, “when the only ‘facts’ to back this up are reports directed by China's Ministry of Propaganda.”
NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) have found gaping holes in the cover story propagated by Xinhua. They performed frame-by-frame analysis of the official video footage aired repeatedly on TV shortly after the incident, and examined inconsistencies in verbal claims and coverage made by official media and the communist party.
“This staged incident follows right along with the communist party’s bloody tradition of outrageous lies,” says John Jaw, president of the NGO World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG).
“They concoct propaganda and repeat it ceaselessly to further a campaign of persecution. It happened with capitalists in the 50s, intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution, and students turned enemies-of-the-state in 1989. The party fabricates and invents in order to incite hatred among the Chinese populace toward a particular group in the society.”
The analysts in an award-winning documentary from the Chinese-language New Tang Dynasty Television network (NTDTV), False Fire, found numerous holes in the video footage that aired in China after the incident.
One revealing slow-motion sequence shows that one of the women, Liu Chunling-- who in the Xinhua version supposedly died from burn injuries--actually received a sharp blow to the head, with what looks like a metal bar, delivered by a man wearing an army overcoat. She is seen crumpling instantly to the ground and most likely died from that blow.
Wang Jingdong, one of the purported self-immolators, was at the center of several inconsistencies. Long after the incident, Chinese state-run television interviewed a man identified as Wang Jingdong. Yet comparison of the facial features in that film clip with the on-the-scene clip indicate that the interviewee differs from the immolator. Speech-identification technology also verified that two different persons played the roles.
Media Examine the Claims
A CNN reporter was on the spot during the beginning of the incident, but was detained immediately and the film and camera were confiscated. At first, Xinhua claimed that the widely shown video was from CNN. However, CNN’s chief news executive, Eason Jordan, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that “the footage used in the Chinese television reports could not have come from CNN videotape because the CNN cameraman was arrested almost immediately after the incident began.”
The Post also visited the hometown of one of the women and concluded that she was unlikely to be a Falun Gong practitioner, based on extensive interviews.
The NGO International Education Development testified at the UN in Geneva as long ago as 2001 that “we have obtained a video of that incident that in our view proves that this event was staged by the government.”
Yet many Western media have continued to uncritically report the communist party line that Falun Gong practitioners were involved.
Reuters for example, in its “This day in history” calendar, attributes the incident to Falun Gong as unquestioned fact.
“These media organizations--and again, we're talking about many of the Western press,” said Browde, “have acted as bullhorns for propagandists in the Communist regime to spread fabrications and hate around the world. This is not something, I would think, any responsible media organization would want to be part of.”
“All the evidence points to the communist party lying on this,” says WOIPFG’s Jaw. “Anyone quoting the party line without reporting the evidence is pretty irresponsible.”
To view a slow-motion analysis of the film of the incident, please go to: