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From CND-GLOBAL@listserv.cnd.org Fri Feb 2 04:40:47 2001
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 2001 22:35:46 -0500
Sender: China News Digest (Global Service) <CND-GLOBAL@listserv.cnd.org>
From: CND-Global Editors <cnd-editor@cnd.org>
Organization: China News Digest (CND)
Subject: CND-Global, February 2, 2001 (GL01-015)
To: CND-GLOBAL@listserv.cnd.org

Falun Gong Suicides Fuel New Round of Media Campaign

China News Digest, 2 February 2001

[CND, 02/01/01] After keeping silent for a week, Chinese state media launched a new round of campaign against the Falun Gong sect with grim pictures and video footages of the five people who set themselves on fire at Tiananmen Square on the Eve of the Lunar New Year, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the campaign is aimed at stirring up public anger towards Falun Gong. The headline of Beijing Youth Daily reads Shock, Pain, Indignation, referring the suicide events.

The Chinese Central Television (CCTV) on Tuesday aired graphic footages about the group suicide on Tiananmen Square. According to CCTV, the group, which consisted of two mother-daughter pairs and one man, poured gasoline on their clothes from pop bottles and started the fire on different locations at the Square in the afternoon. One was dead and four others suffered severe burns on their face, body and limbs.

A 12 year-old girl, LIU Siying, could be seen lying on the ground, crying mama, mama in pain after the flames had been put out. Her mother died on the scene. The girl, who was later interviewed from her hospital bed, was quoted as saying that she thought the flames would not hurt her and that she would reach paradise, which she described as a wonderful golden place.

Another victim, CHEN Guo, a beautiful and brilliant 19-year-old music student at the prestigious Central Music College, who once performed in Singapore at the age of 12, was burned beyond recognition. The state media blamed her mother for her obsession with Falun Gong.

The only male survivor, WANG Jindong, expressed no regret about his act. His family members told CCTV reporters that they were not concerned with his horrific burns because he was a faithful follower of Falun Gong.

Police said that they had stopped two other Falun Gong members from setting themselves on fire. One of them, a middle-aged lady denounced Falun Gong afterwards on camera.

The New York Falun Dafa Information Center denied that the five victims were members of Falun Gong and claimed that the sect opposes all killing, including suicide. In a written statement, the center said: It is a tragedy that those who originally set fire to themselves had been driven to such a desperate act, whether because they were so disenfranchised by Chinese society or because they had been set up by the Chinese regime.

Meanwhile, China's semi-official China News Agency quoted a spokesman of the Central Government Liaison Office in Hong Kong as saying that Beijing would not allow Falun Gong to use Hong Kong as a base. About 1,000 Falun Gong followers gathered in Hong Kong a few weeks ago.

According to Reuters, Beijing is increasingly frustrated by the persistent public opposition from mainland Falun Gong members and international criticism of its crackdown on the sect, which it calls an evil cult and fears that its 2008 Olympics bid could be jeopardized by the negative publicity. (LIU Weiming, WU Yiyi)