NEW YORK--In recent months, as dozens of Tibetans have tragically set themselves on fire to protest Chinese repression, several media outlets have referred to an incident of supposed Falun Gong self-immolation on Tiananmen Square in 2001. The Falun Dafa Information Center reiterates that unlike in Tibet, where it appears to be genuine believers self-immolating, the individuals involved in the 2001 incident were NOT Falun Gong practitioners. Rather, various credible sources and analysis indicate that the event was staged by the Communist Party as a horrific propaganda ploy to turn public opinion against Falun Gong, thereby giving the authorities a free hand to intensify repression and torture of practitioners.
Specifically, the Falun Dafa Information Center urges any journalist writing about self-immolations to review the following items and to accurately word any reference to the incident such that they do not imply that the victims were genuine Falun Gong practitioners voluntarily self-immolating. They were not.
- Washington Post: Reporter Finds Holes in China's Tiananmen Immolation Story: Philip Pan from the Washington Post traveled to Kaifeng to investigate the history of two of the immolators who had died in connection with the event, Ms. Liu Chunling and her 12-year-old daughter. The report cast serious doubt as to whether Liu was actually a Falun Gong adherent. “There was something wrong with her...She hit her mother. She hit her daughter too…No one ever saw her practice Falun Gong.”
- False Fire (Video): The authoritative documentary on the suspicious points of the staged "self-immolation" incident. It won an honorary award at the 51st Columbus International Film Festival for its analytical approach and exposure of the tragic event.
An Associated Press (AP) article filed April 2, 2012, is the latest in a string of reports from major media outlets that continue to include inaccurate information concerning the individuals who allegedly set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square in 2001. The AP report states: "The [Tibetan self-immolation] protests are unlikely to sway a Chinese population that has come to associate the tactic with the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement after five of its members set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square in 2001."
Again, independent analysis of the 2001 self-immolations indicates the event was staged, and that the participants were not practitioners of Falun Gong. The only party asserting the individuals were Falun Gong practitioners is China's state-run propaganda organs. The public entrusts media with an enormous responsibility to deliver the facts, especially in cases where lives are at risk under the persecution of a repressive regime. No credible media should take the assertions of the Chinese regime's propaganda and adopt it as fact, especially when such a wealth of third-party evidence demonstrates the contrary.