NEW YORK -- On Tuesday morning, Chinese recycling magnate Chen Guangbiao held a press conference in New York, claiming that he is offering donations for a mother and daughter allegedly burned while joining in a self-immolation incident on Tiananmen Square in 2001 whose participants the Chinese government has claimed were Falun Gong practitioners.
The Falun Dafa Information Center would like to reiterate that over the past decade, a wealth of credible sources and analysis have demonstrated the alleged self-immolation event on January 23, 2001 was staged by the Chinese regime as a horrific propaganda ploy to turn public opinion against Falun Gong.
Chinese authorities did not allow any independent investigation of the event, and used it as a pretext to sanction the systematic use of violence and extrajudicial imprisonment against Falun Gong practitioners, leading to a surge in deaths due to torture and abuse in custody.
This press event therefore appears to be an attempt to use Chen's notoriety and New York City media to spread the Chinese Communist Party's vilification of Falun Gong within American society.
"Via meditation exercises, roots in the Buddha school, and the core tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, Tolerance, Falun Gong aims to enhance personal well-being," says Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang. "Falun Gong's main book, Zhuan Falun, and other teachings explicitly prohibit killing and suicide. Moreover, the immolators' meditation movements in videos broadcast on state-run media are incorrect. Could these people be genuine Falun Gong practitioners if they are not following such a basic aspect of the teachings or correctly performing the meditation exercises?"
"Their actions cannot be taken to represent what Falun Gong is, a practice that encourages people to be truthful, kind, and tolerant, and to treasure all lives, including their own."
"Furthermore, the fact that this event is promoting such falsehoods from Chinese Communist Party propaganda should set off serious alarm bells for Americans, given Chen's reported desire to possibly purchase the New York Times," says Zhang.
"Chen already stated that he would use the paper to 'publicize positive information about China.' Under his ownership, the Communist Party could also use it to publicize hate incitement and misinformation about its victims like Falun Gong practitioners."
The Falun Dafa Information Center urges journalists or others covering this story to review this information and investigate claims made at this press event thoroughly to ensure this event does not use our Western free press to advance the Chinese regime's persecutory agenda.
Falun Gong spokesman Erping Zhang is also available for interview: (646) 533-6147.
Quotes from independent observers about the "self-immolation" incident
“Falun Gong representatives from outside of China immediately contested the accuracy of reports coming from the mainland. Over and over again, they insisted – correctly – that there is no sanction for violence in Li Hongzhi’s writings or in Falun Gong practice – whether it be violence targeted at someone else, or at oneself.”
- Canadian religious studies Professor David Ownby, who has authored several books and articles on Falun Gong
"None ever saw her practice Falun Gong."
- Philip Pan, Washington Post, concluding an investigative report into the background of two supposed immolators.
"The regime points to a supposed self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001 .... However, we have obtained a video of that incident that in our view proves that this event was staged by the government."
- International Education Development. Statement in the United Nations. Sub-Commission on the promotion and Protection of Human Rights Fifty-third session.
“Significantly, one of the CNN producers on the scene, just 50 feet away, says she did not even see a child there [countering the version of events widely broadcast by Chinese state television]."
- New York-based media analyst Danny Schecter
"We ultimately found out that it [the self-immolation incident] was staged anyway, it was not real.. it was completely staged by the government."
– Clive Ansley, Canadian lawyer and former professor of Chinese History and Law.
"The government’s story about the self-immolations was riddled with inconsistencies. These included the fact that Falun Gong’s teachings forbid violence and suicide, video footage of the immolators’ incorrect meditation postures, and an investigation by the Washington Post’s Philip Pan, who found no evidence that the woman who died on the square had ever practiced Falun Gong."
- Sarah Cook, Senior Research Analyst, Freedom House