May 23, 2003
WASHINGTON DC (FDI) – Mr. John Jaw, the president of an organization investigating atrocities against Falun Gong practitioners in China, has a fantastic story to tell.
Former Chinese leader, Jiang Zemin, ordered underlings to assemble a group of individuals who would light themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square. The incident would be framed as a dramatic suicide and pegged on Falun Gong – all with the intent to marshal public opinion against the spiritual practice that Jiang had tried so desperately to crush.
Unfortunately, says Mr. Jaw, the story is all too real.
On January 23, 2001, five individuals reportedly lit themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese state-run media claimed the individuals were Falun Gong practitioners and assembled a barrage of programs in what the Washington Post called, “the latest salvo in the [Chinese] government’s escalating campaign to discredit Falun Gong…and win support for its 18-month [now nearly four-year] effort to crush it.”
Critics of the Chinese regime’s persecution of Falun Gong, however, say the entire self-immolation incident was very suspicious. In July 2001, an investigative video was released on the Internet that dissects CCTV footage and references information reported by CNN and the Washington Post to demonstrate that the incident was staged.
After viewing the video in a presentation to the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights at the United Nations, the International Education Development (IED) organization said the video “in our view proves that this event was staged by the [Chinese] government.”
Mr. Jaw agrees and three months ago his organization, the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) began its own investigation.
“If you look at the pieces of this puzzle,” says Mr. Jaw, “the protective clothing worn by the self-immolators, the fire extinguishers and video cameras that were immediately on-hand, the glaring loopholes in subsequent CCTV coverage of the incident…there’s really only one conclusion: The police on Tiananmen Square that day knew what was going to happen. They were ready and had a camera man on-hand to film the whole thing.”
Mr. Jaw concludes, “Sadly, the SARS cover-up is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this regime is hiding, but with this latest information we have, it’s clear to me that this entire production can’t hold up much longer.”
The “latest information” Mr. Jaw refers to, and that was presented at the press conference in Washington DC, includes the following:
Two Wang Jindongs Identified: Speech identification technology at a world-renowned laboratory in Chinese speech identification, synthesis and verification determined that the “lead” self-immolator, “Wang Jindong,” who appeared several times on China’s state-run CCTV programs, is actually played by two different people. This evidence supports previous analysis of the hairline and ears of the “Wang Jindong” in the self-immolation footage as being different from the photo of “Wang Jindong” released by China’s state-run media. Two Critical Hours Gone Missing: Medical personnel at Jishuitan Hospital – the hospital where the self-immolators were rushed to after the incident – revealed that the ambulance carrying the self-immolators arrived two hours after they were loaded into the ambulance on Tiananmen Square. It is only about 6 miles between Tiananmen Square and Jishuitan Hospital. The trip should take approximately 15 minutes. Where were the victims during these two hours? Mysterious Death of Young Girl: Medical staff at Jishuitan Hospital also say the 12-year-old girl reportedly involved in the self-immolation died “suddenly” just before she was to be released from the hospital. They reported that her death was “very suspicious” because she had recovered well and showed good health just a day before she died. They reported that on the morning of March 17, 2001 – the day she was to be released – she was “quite animated and active” and was visited by the head of the Beijing City Medical Administration Division. A few hours later she was suddenly in critical condition and died. Information and “loopholes” that were previously uncovered about the self-immolation incident include:
PRC Lies About Source of Up-Close Footage: Shortly after the incident, the Chinese regime claimed the up-close footage of the self-immolation incident, which has been widely used in anti-Falun Gong programs, was taken by a CNN news crew who were on the Square that day. However, according to a Washington Post article, CNN’s chief news executive, Eason Jordan, said “the footage used in the Chinese television reports could not have come from CNN videotape because the CNN cameraman was arrested almost immediately after the incident began.” The Post article went on to say, “The close-up shots shown on Chinese television appear to have been taken without any interference from police. In some, the camera is clearly behind police barricades …In addition, footage from overhead surveillance cameras in Tiananmen Square appears to show a man using a small handheld video camera to film the scene, not a large TV news camera.” The man with the video camera is dressed like a Chinese police officer and moving freely among them to video tape the scene at close range. Source of Long-Range Footage Remains Unknown: The long-distance surveillance cameras located on roofs of the buildings surrounding Tiananmen Square pan back and forth automatically, and do not have the capability to zoom in and out. Yet, the long distance footage of the self-immolations was not panning at all, but focusing in on the exact locations of the self-immolations. Additionally, these cameras were zooming in and out. Who took this footage and how did they happen to be on the rooftops with a long distance zoom-capable video camera at the right time? Footage Shows Self-Immolator Clubbed on the Head by Security Officer: From the video recording of the self-immolation aired on CCTV, one can see a man wearing a military overcoat and he appears to have a heavy object that strikes the head of Ms. Liu Chunling, one of the self-immolators. The impact of the blow sends her immediately to the ground. WOPIFG believes that it is highly likely that Liu Chunling died at the scene from this assault instead of from burns, as the Chinese regime claims. Who is this man and why did he strike Ms. Liu on the head? One theory derived from Ms. Liu’s frantic motion and reported yelling during the incident suggests she had or said something that might betray the self-immolation plot. Immediate Availability of Fire Extinguishers: Fire extinguishers were almost immediately available, yet no police or security personnel have ever been known to carry fire extinguishers while patrolling Tiananmen Square. Who had the fire extinguishers and how did they happen to be on-hand? Police Pause Before Draping Blanket over Victim as Near-by Camera Rolls: In the up-close footage of the incident, one can see a police officer approach one self-immolator with a fire blanket. However, the officer holds it over the self-immolator’s head and waits. Finally, the self-immolator shouts out something like “This universal dafa is something everyone has to get through,” (spokespersons for the Falun Dafa Information Center say this statement has no basis in the teachings of Falun Gong) at which point the officer than throws the blanket on the man. Why did the officer wait for the man to shout this slogan as the video camera was rolling right in front of him? Immediate Broadcast by Chinese State-Run Media: Broadcasting news of sensitive topics typically takes many hours, and sometimes even days to finalize because it requires approval from many Party officials and censors. News of the self-immolation incident, however, was first aired within hours after the incident happened – lightening speed for China’s state-run CCTV. Washington Post Findings about a Self-Immolator: A Washington Post reporter went to the hometown of one of the self-immolators to investigate her background. A subsequent Washington Post article reported that “none ever saw her practice.” After this article was published, the reporter was arrested upon returning to this victim’s hometown for further investigation. In a written statement about the case, the WOIPFG says, “It is possible that this crime can be directly attributed to Jiang Zemin, the Chinese president and head of the Chinese Communist Party at the time.”
Mr. Jaw recognizes the gravity of the allegations his organization has made, and that if proven correct, this could be the biggest known conspiracy undertaken by the Chinese leadership since the Communist Party came to power.
But Mr. Jaw also says that much work remains to be done. “We recognize the degree of difficulty of the case and the importance to continue further investigation,” says Mr. Jaw. “We are determined to discover and expose all the facts surrounding this case.”