NEW YORK, January 23, 2002 (Falun Dafa Information Center) -One year ago today, five individuals allegedly set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Soon after, Chinese state-run media began a massive campaign, labelling the self-immolators as "Falun Gong practitioners" and utilizing the entire event to demonize Falun Gong in the media. In the weeks that followed, China's state-run media repeatedly broadcast throughout the country grisly footage of the entire incident intertwined with anti-Falun Gong propaganda. This propaganda campaign has continued up to the present day and much of it has made its way into Western media as well.
According to an AFP report issued yesterday, Chinese state-run media is marking the one-year anniversary of the self-immolations by broadcasting a string of follow-up propaganda shows about the self-immolations. Reflecting on the information coming from China's state-run media, Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Gail Rachlin noted: "Throughout this past year, the vast majority of information regarding the self-immolation incident that has appeared in the world's media has come from Chinese state-run media outlets." Ms. Rachlin continued, "It is no surprise, therefore, that virtually all of this information serves the purpose of demonizing Falun Gong in order to bend public opinion against Falun Gong within China, while at the same time, justifying the persecution of Falun Gong for China's critics abroad. Yet, here we are a year later, and the facts of the self-immolation incident continue to be clouded in a whirlwind of propaganda and slander."
Some of the facts to which Ms. Rachlin refers include:
- Falun Gong's teachings forbid killing and regards suicide as a form of killing. Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, has explicitly stated that suicide is a sin.
- According to a Feb. 6th, 2001, article in the Washington Post, written by Phillip Pan, at least one of the alleged participants in the self-immolations was known to not have any association with Falun Gong whatsoever. After publication of this article, Mr. Pan returned to the alleged participant's hometown to do further investigation and was arrested by Chinese authorities.
- No independent journalists have been able to meet or speak with the survivors of the self-immolations, while Chinese state-run media appear to have unlimited access to conduct interviews.
- Chinese officials claim their up-close video footage of the self-immolations was taken by a CNN camera crew that was arrested on the scene. The CNN crew, however, says they were arrested and taken away before they had a chance to film any such footage.
- In February, 2001, Falun Gong supporters in the United States issued a video deconstruction of CCTV's self-immolation video footage, identifying sections of the footage that cast doubt upon the story being told by the Chinese Communist propaganda. Shortly thereafter, these sections of the self-immolation footage were removed from virtually all Chinese state-run propaganda shows.
- After viewing the deconstruction video of the CCTV footage of the self-immolations, one reporter writes in an article that appeared in the Boston Globe on April 18th, 2001, "it appears that Liu Chunling, one of two people who died, collapsed not from the flames but from being bludgeoned by a man in a military overcoat. Falun Gong members identified the man as a police officer."
- According Chinese state-run media, doctors feared that the victims might suffocate due to swelling of the trachea, and so the trauma teams cut open their trachea and throats to allow them to breathe. However, it was reported that they were immediately able to field questions from journalists and have conversations allegedly "renouncing Falun Gong." One doctor in the U.S. expressed disbelief when reading this news article, saying, "Either the China news agency is lying or they've created a medical miracle…"
Based on a count of established Falun Gong practice sites, Falun Gong is now practiced freely in over fifty countries around the world. Additionally, Falun Gong and its founder, Mr. Li Hongzhi, have received well over 500 awards and proclamations from government leaders throughout North America for the benefits Falun Gong has brought to those who practice it and the communities in which they live. Furthermore, Mr. Li was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in both 2000 and 2001. Ms. Rachlin believes this wide range of support is a clear indication that the practice and teachings of Falun Gong are bringing something "truly healthy and positive" into people's lives. At the same time, Ms Rachlin pointed out that giving airtime to Chinese Communist propaganda related to Falun Gong goes beyond the issue of freedom of press. "This propaganda," Ms. Rachlin said, "is not just an opinion or another side of the story. It is a targeted attack with an intent to incite hatred and violence against Falun Gong. This hatred has brought about the deaths of over 1,600 innocent Chinese citizens who have been tortured and beaten to death, and has lead to the persecution of tens of thousands more. To propagate this hatred contributes directly to the persecution and deaths of these people. I hope the world's media will weigh this issue carefully and handle information they receive from the Chinese regime responsibly."
Ms. Rachlin concluded, "It is horrifying that the Chinese regime would take this tragic event, embellish it with lies and slander about Falun Gong, and then utilize it as the focal point of a worldwide media campaign to justify the violent persecution of people who merely seek to peacefully and quietly exercise their freedom of belief. It's absolutely horrifying."
To read a full report on the self-immolation incident and view the CCTV footage of the self-immolations as well as the deconstruction of that footage, please visit: http://www.faluninfo.net/devstories/tiananmen/immolation.asp.
If you would like a copy of the deconstruction of the CCTV self-immolation footage, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to the Falun Dafa Information Center.
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