Two Tiananmen Square Suicide Attempts in One Day

December 19, 2006 12:00 am Last Updated: December 19, 2006 12:00 am

CHINA—On December 15, while Beijing was hosting the “US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue” in the Great Hall of the People, two people attempted suicide nearby but were stopped by police before they injured themselves.

At about 10 a.m., one man holding a large Coke bottle poured gasoline over his body while rushing toward the Great Hall of People on Tiananmen Square. Police knocked him to the ground before he could set himself on fire with a lighter then took him to the Tiananmen police station.

On the same day, in the vicinity of Mao's Memorial Hall, several police and plain clothes security arrested a woman trying to commit suicide.

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In recent days, security has been very tight around the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square because of the “US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue” held inside. After two attempted suicides, the police again strengthened security, forming several layers of barriers and security lines with more policemen, plainclothes security, armed police, and the Central Guards Regiment (military force).

In order to prevent further suicide attempts, police extended the security lines to the west side of the square. They also guarded the entrance of Tiananmen Square, which is across the road from the Great Hall of the People. Tourists had their bags randomly checked before they entered Tiananmen Square. All bottled drinks were opened and smelled by police or the carrier drank from the container before passing through.

Near noon that day, Police were very nervous when they searched two old women's bags and discovered that they came with over 200 other appellants, who were laid off from state owned enterprises in Helongjiang Province. They immediately started looking for others on the Square.

According to one eyewitness, they were all new appellants; they did not have any experience and did not know where to appeal. They weren't drained financially and were dressed neatly, not like the poor and other experienced appellants. This made it difficult for police to distinguish them. He also said that they were not yet brave, and during the police search they were so scared that most of them left the Tiananmen Square.

According to one Beijing resident, on the December 15, there were more police than tourists.