1998-1999 began the launch of China’s suppression of the Falun Gong, a traditional discipline with a big following in China (70-100 million practising). Being an accessible spiritual practise bringing a lot of benefits, Falun Gong was becoming a respected practise and a household name.
As we know, from many of the cases of the infringement of spiritual human rights, any spiritual movement which is increasing in popularity and also, encourages their practitioners to develop an inner freedom, is considered a threat to those governments still existing under corrupt regimes, whether they maybe under the guise of a kind of ‘democracy’ or in this case, a clear cut Communist rule.
By the end of 2000, the Chinese government’s campaign to get support amongst many of the CCP’s rank and file was failing. At this time, ex CCP leader Jiang Zemin toured southern provinces hoping to gain more support for this campaign among local leaders. Also, public support for this campaign had diminished. On January 23, 2001, 5 people allegedly set themselves alight in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The entire scene was filmed and starting just hours after the event, state-controlled media was flooded with reports that the self-immolators were Falun Gong practitioners. These reports included grisly footage of the victims, portraying Falun Gong teachings as directly responsible for the tragedy.
This self- immolation incident had a huge impact upon the Chinese people. The resulting apathy and hostility towards Falun Gong incensed by the self- immolation and the ‘so called’ cause being the practise of Falun Gong, has meant that the Chinese government has had a great success in eradicating this practise and has also led to many Falun Gong practitioners being tortured and abused, and even allegations of organ harvesting from the bodies and against the will of the Falun Gong practitioners, with the excuse of being a threat to the Chinese government. Interestingly, Falun Gong teachings explicitly prohibit killing or suicide.
Eye witness accounts at the time, claim that there were so many policeman present at the time, that they must have known something was going to happen beforehand. Also the policemen were clearly positioned so that none of the public could clearly see what was going on, but only the press could have a clear image of the incident. Additionally, the footage was reviewed by fire experts who state that gasoline fires burn very fast and so in order for it to be captured on film it would need to be another material burning or the cameras knew about it beforehand and so could capture it on film. Other discrepancies exist between the evidence seen on film and what would usually take place in such a situation, such as the blankets and fire extinguishers used were not the ones normally employed by police and emergency services.
Camera experts recognised that a lot of the frames of the fire appear to be taken from above by cameras clearly positioned earlier in order to get a good view of the fire and the shots would be impossible to take by one just arriving at the scene.
Additionally, the unfortunate victims of the self-immolation, were not Falun Gong practitioners. Those who knew some of the victims claim that the one known to them had never practised Falun Gong.
For those who analysed the event, it was clear that this was a staged event. The fact that so many police were deployed beforehand, cameras positioned earlier and strange equipment used make it highly unlikely that the event was a spontaneous happening.
The staged "self-immolation," remains the single most influential factor in garnering disgust or hatred towards Falun Gong among the Chinese people. The resulting apathy or hostility toward Falun Gong in China has greatly facilitated the regime's attempt to eradicate the practice, and is a primary cause for the tens of thousands of reports of abuse and torture.
It is clear that the Staged "Self-Immolation" on Tiananmen Square was a massive propaganda stunt contrived to demonize Falun Gong in the minds of China's People.
Why would this be necessary? A mass movement encouraging personal freedom and with such a huge following is considered a massive threat to the Chinese State by the Chinese government. What is the consequence? A massive infringement of the human rights of Spiritual Practitioners and Citizens in China.