Self-burning event of Falun Gong practitioners collectively on Tian’anmen Square

On January 23, 2001( the eve of Chinese New Year), while Chinese people were hailing the first Spring Festival of the new century, an unexpected tragedy shocked the whole world: 7 Falun Gong practitioners from Kaifeng City of Henan Province burned themselves collectively on the Tian’anmen Square at 14: 41 of the day. Two of them died and 3 were badly disabled.

Who took part in the self-burning?

Liu Chunling, an unemployed woman of 36, resided in an apartment on the first floor of Building 6 at the eastern part of Ping Guoyuan, Kaifeng City, Henan Province. She died on the spot.

Liu Siying, a 12-year-old girl, was a pupil in Grade 5 of Ping Guoyuan Primary School. Ever since March, 1999, she had been practicing Falun Gong with her mother Liu Chunling. The burned area reached 40% of her body, with the injury on her head and face graded 4th degree of burning. Her eyelids turning outside, her hands and face totally ruined, she lied on bed with great difficulty in breathing. On March 17, 2001, she finally died of deteriorating burning injury and heart failure.

Hao Huijun, born in December of 1953, had been teaching music at the Ethnical Middle School of Hui in Kaifeng City since she graduated from the Art Department of Henan University in 1974. She was Chenguo’s mother and began to practice Falun Gong in 1996.

Chenguo, born in May 1981, began her college life at the Folk Music Department of the Central Conservatory of Music in 1999. Outstanding in her study, she was once recommended by the Affiliated Middle School of the Central Conservatory of Music to join the Milky Way Art Troup of China Central Television and gave performances in Singapore in 1993. She took to Falun Gong in 1996. At the self-burning event on the Tian’anmen Square on January 23, 2001, 80% of her body was burned and 50% reached 3rd degree of burning. Her head and face was in eschar, registered 4th degree of burning. She was in a shock.

Now, Hao huijun and her daughter Chenguo can no longer take care of themselves at all and need 24-hour nursing.
Wang Jindong, born in January of 1951, was a retired worker from Maodun Group, in Kaifeng City, Henan Province. He started to practice Falun Gong in 1996. During his emergent medical treatment, he still recited, “caring about no life and death, we are immortal; caring about life and death, we are mortal.”

Liu Baorong, born in December of 1947, was a retired worker from Dyeing and Knitting Factory in Kaifeng City. She retired because of injury at work place in 1984, and took to Falun Gong in October of 1995. She intended self-burning but failed.

Liu Yunfang, born in December of 1947, resided in No.5 Wuliangmiao Street, Longting District of Kaifeng City. He was originally a worker in a factory in Kaifeng City and then made a living by repairing electric appliances and doing some odd jobs after he was laid off. He had been obsessed with Falun Gong since 1997. He dropped out at the last moment. Later, he explained, “I decided not to burn myself, because our ‘master’ wanted me to live. He needed me to speak for him.”

Xue Hongjun, born in March of 1952, was a doctor from the People’s Hospital of Longjiao District, Kaifeng City. He began to practicing Falun Gong in 1996 and plotted the self-burning event with other conspirators.

On August 17, 2001, the first Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing sentenced Liu Yunfang life imprisonment and deprived her political rights for lifelong time in the name of intentional murder. Wang Jindong was sentenced 15-year imprisonment and deprived political rights for 3 years. Xue Hongjun 10-year imprisonment and 2-year deprivation of political rights, Liu Xiuqin 7-year imprisonment and one year deprivation of political rights, Liu Baorong no penal punishment but an admonish. On November 7 of the same year, Wang Jindong, Liu Yunfang, and Xue Hongjun were transferred to the prison in Zhengzhou, Henan Province and began to serve their sentences.

Why did they burn themselves?
Li Hongzhi instructed his followers:
“The ultimate purpose of practicing is to obtain consummation. You will become a very great god or Buddha after you obtain consummation.” (“Zhuan Falun”)
“You will be a god if you can be indifferent to life and death. If you can’t, you are still a human being.” (“Falun Fofa: lections in United States”)
“I want to show a great feat to people when you obtain consummation, I will allow Dafa followers to be raised to the heaven with their bodies, no matter they want or not. Their bodies will not disappear in the heaven.” (” Falun Fofa: lections in Europe”)
When it entered the 21st century, almost all the Falun Gong practitioners were curious about the very time of consummation. As Li Hongzhi told them, 10 years of practicing would lead to consummation. If counted from 1991, the time when Li Hongzhi may bestow consummation upon all his followers would fall around year 2001. At that time, Li Hongzhi claimed that all the practitioners would become Buddha.

At this critical time, Mr. Li Hongzhi published 3 important essays, the so-called “lection” in Falun Gong, which served as guide lines to control Falun Gong practitioners’ behavior. Here are the three essays.

“Towards Consummation” was published on June 16, 2000. In this lection, Li Hongzhi said, “all my followers are waiting for consummation. I can not wait to see the moment to come. Those who stand out to prove Fa under pressure are great. Those who withstand the strictest overall test will lay a rock-firm earthly foundation for Fa and manifest it on the earth in its true meaning. At the same time, they consummate their own place of greatness. The mass, it is up to you to choose your place in the future.”

“Eliminate Your Last Attachment” published on August 12, 2000. In this lection, Li Hongzhi called, “It is time to give up the last pertinacity. As a practitioner, you have already known and shown how to give up all the earthly pertinacity. You have come out by caring about no life and death.”

“Beyond the Limits of Forbearance” published on January 1, 2001. In this lection, Li Hongzhi agitated, “When the evil are uncorrectable, all means of all levels can be employed to barricade and eliminate it.” “But seeing the present development of the evil, which devoured all humanity and justice, Fa can no longer tolerate its persecution. All the human pertinacity must be abandoned now.”
All the lections of Li Hongzhi conveyed the message that death was the best way to consummation. Thus, Wang Jindong, Liu Yunfang and the other practitioners chose to achieve consummation by burning themselves.
Reveal the lies
Were the persons who burned themselves not Falun Gong practitioners?

On the second day of the self-burning event, the spokesman of Falun Gong claimed that those who committed self-burning were not Falun Gong practitioners. And he added that Falun Gong never advocated suicide.

After the self-burning event, Falun Gong organizations fully employed all their propaganda, spreading the rumor that the self-burning event on the Tian’anmen Square was a tragedy plotted by Chinese Communist Party. For instance, the so-called Information Center of Falun Dafa made a chicanery by releasing a report titled “Chinese Communist Party Produced Self-burning Tragedy, Xinhua News Agency Mongered the Rumor to Stigmatize Falun Gong.” In order to make the rumor get around, they even filmed fake self-burning scenes in disks, libeling that CCP killed people to shut their mouth. They fabricated that Liu Chunling was hit heavily on her head from the back and then she fell down. So, she was not so much burned as beat to death.

After that, Falun Gong organizations took advantage of their propaganda to assault the practitioners involved in the self-burning event. For example, they wrote to claim that the self-burning event was a fake case by comparing 3 pictures of Wang Jindong.

Their lies did not hold water.

Although Falun Gong organizations made an announcement that they never advocated suicide and those who were involved in the self-burning event were not Falun Gong practitioners, they secretly made an investigation on the identity of the people.

Falun Gong practitioners Feng Haijun and Si Mei’e found out those who burned themselves on the Tian’anmen Square were indeed Falun Gong practitioners, and they e-mailed the result to Minghui Net. However, Falun Gong organizations said no word about the investigation.

On April 3, 2002, some Chinese and foreign reporters from Beijing interviewed Wang Jindong and Xue Hongjun.

A reporter asked Wang Jindong, “What was your purpose of burning yourself on the Tian’anmen Square?”

“For the consummation, it is the highest level of practicing Falun Gong. Now, I know, Li Hongzhi cheated us by promoting the so-called consummation. Self-burning could not achieve ‘consummation’ nor ‘be raised to the heaven’. It only ruined me.”

“Why did you practice Falun Gong?”

“Firstly, my aim was simple, just to keep fit and strong. But later, Li Hongzhi spoke of the calamity of human beings and we could survive it only by practicing Falun Gong. It indeed surpasses the purpose of keeping fit.”

A reporter questioned “The overseas Falun Gong organizations say you were not a practitioner, and the self-burning event was plotted by the government.”

Wang Jindong said calmly, “I have heard of that. The fact is clear. Someone is making rumors intentionally.”

Xue Hongjun, sitting beside him, added, “Wang Jindong and I were good friends for tens of years. At a time, many people believed Falun Gong was good, so I pleaded with someone in another city to buy a book Zhuan Falun. I gave the book to him as a present, taking for granted that it would is good to him. I never expected it would do harm to him. I regret having done that all my life.”

To Xue Hongjun, one of the conspirators having plotted the self-burning event at the Tian’anmen Square, the scene of making the scheme together with Wang Jindong remained fresh in his memory. He said, “By then, I had been practicing Falun Gong with Wang Jindong and some other Falun Gong followers for more than a year and I had never promoted Fa outside. But Li Hongzhi kept on sending instructions through the internet, requiring his followers not to care about life and death and promote Fa outside, in pursuit of the last consummation. That time, to many followers, burning themselves on the Tian’anmen Square to achieve consummation appeared a general trend.” However, Xue Hongjun did not go to the Tian’anmen Square. He said, “I did not go, because I thought, compared with Wang Jindong, I was on a lower level. Going there would mean nothing for me. But when I saw the horrible scene on the TV, I was shocked. The so-called consummation was but the miserable burning injury of Wang Jindong and the rest. That was the true face of Falun Gong.”
A reporter asked Wang Jindong, “It is said that your wife and daughter are not real and the family is temporarily organized. And even your face skin is a camouflage by dressing.” Wang Jindong answered in anger, “If you suspect, just feel my face to see if it is real or not!”

With his words, he showed the reporters a photo album he brought with him. On the album were some photos of him and his family including his wife and daughter. “We married over 20 years ago, when Falun Gong did not turn up in China.”

On August 18, 2005, arranged by the Information Office of the State Council, a team of reporters from Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, China Radio International, China News Agency, Hong Kong Wenwei Newspaper, the Associated Press and CNN interviewed Wan Jindong, Liu Yunfang and Xue Hongjun at Zhengzhou Prison.

Freed from Li Hongzhi’s spiritual control, Wan, Liu and Xue were in deep repentance and indignation when speaking of the situation four years ago. Wan said, “To Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong, I have only one feeling in my heart, that’s hatred.”
While recalling that he had been so obsessed with Falun Gong to the extent of committing suicide and killing other people, Wang Jindong’s heart still throbbed. “Were it not a policeman who saved me at the moment when I was going to strike fire, my body and face would have been ruined like Wang Jindong, Hao Huijun and Chenguo,” said Liu Yunfang, who also had taken an active part in the self-burning event under the spiritual control of Li Hongzhi.

Wakened from the nightmare, Wang Jindong has not only cast off the heavy spiritual fetters but actively helped other obsessed Falun Gong practitioners come out of the nightmare. He said, “Since I have resumed a clear head, I have the responsibility and obligation to do that.” Due to severe burning injury, Wang’s nails conglutinated when entering the jail. With the Government’s care and concern, in June, 2004, he had an operation and could use his hands freely again. He showed his hands to the reporters and said, “They are flexible now.” Liu Yunfang, at her age of 61 then, was full of regret and said, “I was more obsessed than them, so it was quite difficult for me to see the truth. When the foreign reporters came last time, I had not come out of the obsession yet.” Wang Jindong said he would never forget the day of September 27, 2003, when he completely broke away from the heretical cult Falun Gong. Thinking of Hao Huijun and Chenguo, Xue Hongjun sighed that he was very lucky. Knowing the government is taking good care of them, he got some peace in his heart.

Wang Jindong said besides working in the jail he would do some readings and writings. The reporters got to know that in view of their good performance, their sentences have been commuted according to the law. Having gradually calmed down, they cherished hope and love to the future. Xue Hongjun told the reporter that he often met with Wang Jindong and Liu Yunfang and they talked a lot about the plan for the future. He said, “Keeping sound is very important.”

“I will never forget the government and the society’s care and concern for me.” Said Wang Jindong, whose words were representative of their heart-felt gratitude.

On February 5, 2001, Times reported, “A Beijing branch of Falun Gong, the illegal spiritual organization, insisted that these protesters were Falun Gong followers. ‘We have heard the call from our master that we should strengthen the fight against evil’, said a Falun Gong practitioner in Beijing.” However, a few hours later, the New York Center of Falun Gong kept cautious distance from the action, “the so-called suicide on the Tian’anmen Square has nothing to do with Falun Gong practitioners, because the teachings of Falun Gong are against suicide of all kinds.”

It was in the face of two reporters from CNN that Wang Jindong and the rest burned themselves. The reporters depicted the situation in such a detail that they described the smell of burning flesh and the severe burning injury on the face. In fact, CNN believed they were Falun Gong practitioners all along.

On the Human Rights Conference of the United Nations in 2002, Wang Jindong’s daughter refuted the rumors mongered by Falun Gong by presenting the miserable experiences of her parents and herself after practicing Falun Gong.

On August 19, 2005, a team of both Chinese and foreign reporters went to Kaifeng City, Henan province to interview Hao Huijun, Chenguo, the victims of the Jan.23 self-burning event on the Tian’anmen Square, and Wang Jindong’s wife and daughter.

In the interview, Hao Huijun sobbed, “My daughter and I have nothing to do with Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong now.” She told the reporters that the government assigned nursing workers to take care of their daily life. She also spoke of her plan for writing a book. On Chenguo’s computer desk, the reporters found two thick notebooks. On every page of them were characters written by Chenguo, who managed to hold a pen with her two disabled hands.

He Haihua, Wang Jindong’s wife, said, “I am grateful to the Party and the Government for helping us get rid of the spiritual control of Falun Gong. Now, we can enjoy our life again.” She told reporters that in his letter to her Wang Jindong wrote, “When I am out of the prison, I will work hard. As long as we save enough money, we can go sightseeing.” Wang Juan, Wang Jindong’s daughter, was once obsessed with Falun Gong too. She told the reporters, “In the past, I regarded Li Hongzhi as God. Now, we see he has been cheating around.” “Thank the Government for not only helping us break away with Falun Gong, but also leading us to a normal life again.”

Does Falun Gong oppose killing lives?

“If there are fliers, mosquitoes in our living place, we may let them out or set a screen to keep them out. But if we can not let them out, we may as well beat them to death.” (“Zhuan Falun”)

In his lection in Switzerland, Li Hongzhi made it more clear, “Since we care about nothing of love, fame and profit, why can not we drop out the fear of killing lives? Isn’t it an elimination of pertinacity?”

“(In the practicing) we can not kill lives. But Da Fa is flexible on a higher level, which manifests the truth in the ambit of Buddha.”

In his essay “Da Fa is Flexible”, Li Hongzhi equaled killing lives as salvation, “the killed lives were in a miserable situation and suffered losses of materials. In the pursuit of consummation, the practitioners should rescue them with their own achievements. Thus, from this angle, the compensation that the killed lives obtain is much greater than what they could get as a living being. This is to get rid of the evil with the good.”

As is shown, at a certain “higher level” of Falun Gong, killing lives are permitted and should not be afraid of. Moreover, that is not labeled as killing lives, for the concept has disappeared and killing or hurting lives equals “salvation” or “releasing souls from purgatory”.

Since Falun Gong is full of hidden killing instructions, how come its claim of opposing killing lives?”

Li Hongzhi lectured in Canada, “If the evil is uncorrectable, how shall we treat it? It is not a matter of personal cultivation but a protection of a universal law. If necessary, we can get rid of it by all means of different levels and abilities.” “Under special conditions, we can eradicate the evil. Yes, we can do it, though there is no precedent in the history of self-cultivation.”

Obviously, in order to “stabilize Fa” or “protect the universal law”, Falun Gong can adopt “all means” of “different levels and abilities” to eradicate “the evil with no humanity”. “Different levels” refers to people of different backgrounds and educations, “different abilities” means different physical power and “all means” must include hacking, chopping, burning, drowning and so on. In Falun Gong, there is no such a concept of killing people but “eradicating the evil”.

The tragedies, such as the obsessed Falun Gong practitioner Fu Yibing killing his father and wife in Beijing, the infatuated Falun Gong practitioner Guan Shuyun killing her 9-year-old daughter in Heilongjiang, and so on, all happened in this background.

When the cases were reported by the media both at home and abroad, many righteous people bitterly criticized and accused the abhorrent cheat of Falun Gong. Some domestic media such as Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily revealed and denounced the evil nature of Falun Gong, the heretical cult. Many overseas media also released articles to condemn Falun Gong. On February 19, 2001, Chinese Press, a publication in U.S.A, set a five-page column of “See through Falun Gong” to expose the evil heretical nature of Falun Gong. In the column, it remarked that Falun Gong’s evil heretical nature was disclosed by the event of Falun Gong practitioners burning themselves in pursuit of “consummation and being raised to the heaven” on the Tian’anmen Square on January 23. The Labor News in North Korea released an article on February 18, 2001, pointing out that Falun Gong is an evil heretical cult employed by Li Hongzhi to delude the common people into going against their government. On February 12, 2001, Chinese European Times, a nationwide Chinese newspaper in Italy, also released an editorial on the evil heretical nature of Falun Gong.

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