Bogus Self-immolation Claim in China

November 5, 2005 Updated: August 21, 2015

BEIJING—While state-owned press published a brief article claiming that a Falun Gong practitioner set herself on fire, construction workers at the scene on Beijing’s Nanchang Street say they did not see anyone burn themselves. Human rights activists in Beijing stated it was very unlikely that Falun Gong practitioners would do such a thing.

The scenario echoes a widely publicized—and later discredited—self-immolation incident in January 2001 in Tiananmen Square. State-owned media initially reported that Falun Gong practitioners had burned themselves. However, review of film of the incident led analysts to conclude that the event was staged; that one woman died from being struck by a policemen with a heavy object, not burning; and that the people involved were not Falun Gong practitioners.

The article “A Woman Burned Herself on Nanchang Street Yesterday” states: “About 9:00 a.m. yesterday, on the east sidewalk at the south end of Nanchang Street, a woman burned herself. When the policeman found out, he rushed to save her life. The woman was sent to the hospital, but the rescue effort failed. She died. According to the remains at the scene and an initial investigation, and by asking the local residents, the person is Falun Gong practitioner Li Xiaoying from Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province. The relevant investigation is still going on.”

Nanchang Street is 5 meters wide with very few pedestrians. Only the Bus No.5 route passes this street. Going forward 200-300 hundred meters is Tiananmen Square, and another 500-600 meters is the Xinhua Gate of Zhongnanhai, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) central compound.

Entering from south end of the Nanchang Street, there is a construction zone tens of meters long. The workers have been on the job there in recent days. When several workers were asked whether they knew of anyone burning themselves around this area recently, they all said “No.”

Why not on Tiananmen Square?

Beijing has a large itinerant community made up of individuals who have come to appeal injustices done. According to individuals who have come to appeal, doing self-immolation in a place that has very few people is not logical. If the woman said to have immolated herself had walked a little further, there is the place that attracts the world’s attention. Why not protest any injustice done there?

There have been reports of recent self-immolations on Tiananmen Square. On Nov. 2 four people from Jiangsu Province poured gasoline on their bodies and burned themselves. They were taken to the Tiananmen Police Station.

On Nov. 3, because of the death of former Chinese president Rong Yiren, many people went to Xinhua Gate to protest, and so there were many policemen around Tiananmen Square. According to a policeman there, all the policemen in Xicheng District Public Security Bureau were sent to Tiananmen Square to be on duty. That policeman also disclosed that there was actually one person who burned himself in Xicheng District, but the details are not known.

A Beijing human rights activist whose name must be kept secret in order to protect him or her from reprisal said, “Now that the weather turns cold, people have no place to live or food to eat. Many of them have been driven to self-immolation by the government. However Falun Gong practitioners will not immolate themselves. They have endured so much torture yet still persevere in living and offering help to others, how can they immolate themselves?”

At the time this article was written, the reporter had been unable to contact the Beijing Daily News or the Fuyou Street Police Station to acquire relevant information.

A New Round of Persecution

Picture of the east side of Nanchang Street taken from its south end on November 4, 2005 by an Epoch Times reporter. (The Epoch Times)
Picture of the east side of Nanchang Street taken from its south end on November 4, 2005 by an Epoch Times reporter. (The Epoch Times)

Internet writer Ouyang Fei pointed out in his article on the Minghui website that the CCP’s intention is quite clear in reporting about this “self-immolation case.” It wishes to justify a new round of persecution.

The article indicated that in 2005, Zeng Qinghong and Luo Gan launched a new round of mass arrests of Falun Gong practitioners, death reports due to ill treatment continued to arise and many extremely serious torture cases have been made public.

Ms. Gao Rongrong, a Falun Gong practitioner in Shenyang was facially disfigured after repeated shocks with electric batons and eventually died due to torture. Police in the Masanjia labor camp shocked Wang Yujie’s breasts with an electric club, causing severe mutilation.

This escalating persecution provides the background for the CCP-controlled newspaper reporting on November 3, 2005 of the fatal self-immolation of a female on Nanchang Street in Beijing. Although the report claimed an investigation is in progress, it immediately announced the self-immolator is a Falun Gong practitioner.

Mr. Fei’s article pointed out that in early 2001, Jiang Zemin, Zeng Qinghong and Luo Gan staged the “Self-Immolation” of Falun Gong practitioners on Tiananmen Square. A slow motion analysis of the videotape broadcast on the state-run CCTV clearly reveals that Ms. Liu Chunling, who was said to have died from self-immolation, was hit on the head with a blunt object by a policeman at the scene. Despite a series of “special interviews” the CCP broadcast later to patch it up, it never dared to dispute the fact that Liu was beaten to death.