Wang Jindong: My Personal Statement on the Tiananmen Square Self-immolation Incident(I)
Wang Jindong: My Personal Statement on the Tiananmen Square Self-immolation Incident(II)
Editor’s note: Wang Jindong used to be an obsessed follower of Falun Gong. On the eve of Chinese New Year on January 23, 2001, he participated in the self-immolation incident in the Tiananmen Square, and was the first self-immolator. On August 17, 2001, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing Municipality with political rights suspended for three years. In May 2003, he wrote this article in prison, recalling the years of being obsessed by Falun Gong, recollecting the "1.23" self-immolation incident and surveying the process of waking up after the incident. This article reveals facts about the self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001.
Self-immolation in Tiananmen Square
On the next morning, we advised other followers to stay in the suite for security reason. Liu Yunfang and I made a phone call to Liu Xiuqin with a pay telephone at the street. We invited her for a meeting. She accepted the invitation at once. We decided to meet at 19:00 at the entrance of the Capital Steel Co.
Then Liu Yunfang and I went to Liulichang Antiques Street by subway, where we bought a 40-metre-long plastic bag to contain gasoline (actually the moisture proof bag for mounting calligraphy and picture). It was still early, so we took a round on the street. At 17:00, we got to Gucheng by subway, and had dinner at McDonald’s. At 19:00, we met Liu Xiuqin at the gate of Capital Steel Co. She led us to a restaurant to join another three people, including two men and one woman. Thus, we had six people for the meeting. During the meeting, a middle-aged woman did not say a word. Through dialogues, we found that Liu Xiuqin had better understanding of Falun Dafa than other people. So I hinted Liu Xiuqin to stop the conversation. Then Liu Xiuqin invited Liu Yunfang and me to her home for further conversation. At her home, we told her the real purpose of our trip to Beijing. She was surprised and admired us a lot. She also felt shameful for she did not have the courage to do so. She was deeply moved by my calmness, and admired our achievement in practice and cultivation. Driven by the admiration, she expressed her willingness to help us in fulfilling the plan.
I told her that we did not dare to fill gasoline in our residence, where we knew little about. I asked for her help to find a house to fill gasoline. She said it was difficult to find such a place. At last she told us we could fill the gasoline at her home. Liu Yunfang and I were touched by her sincere contribution. We both thought that the decision reflected Liu Xiuqin reached a high level in cultivation.
When we got back to our residence, Liu Yunfang was worried about whether we could buy gasoline. He urged me for several times to buy gasoline in advance. But I told him that nowhere is safe for the gasoline. I reassured him that I was a veteran driver and knew where and how I could get gasoline. I asked him to take it easy.
On the morning of January 22, Liu Yunfang and I bought four 10-litre plastic barrels in a nearby grocery, and a pipe for intake of gasoline from the barrels. Then we rented a minivan, asking the driver to take us to a gas station. There we filled the barrels with gasoline. On the way back, we changed another car halfway to avoid arousing suspicion. We arrived at Liu Xiuqin’s home at about 10:00. Liu Xiuqin was waiting for us. We separated the gasoline at balcony and wrapped the barrels with three-layer plastic to prevent exuding. Then we covered the barrels with a piece of cloth. Since Liu Xiuqin’s husband knew nothing about what we had done, we had to get rid of the gasoline odor. Liu Xiuqin even burned incense in the bedroom.
In order to help us, Liu Xiuqin asked for a leave from work that day. Her boss made two phone calls to her out of the worries about her involvement with Falun Gong. She stalled off her boss with a few vague remarks.
On January 23, 2001, also the last day of lunar Chinese year, we seven got up early. After washing-up and breakfast, we left our residence and headed for the home of Liu Xiuqin by taxi. When we entered the door, Liu Xiuqin warned us the gasoline had exuded and was quite smelly. I decided to buy new bags. Since it would take some time for the gasoline to leak, there would be no problem if we put the gasoline in use shortly after we refill it. Someone suggested using soft-drink bottles. But I insisted that bags were better for bottles were not easy to hide. On the way to buy bags, I thought over how to take the gasoline into the square without arousing suspicion for there were too many police people there with piercing eyes. All of a sudden, the toy guns occurred to me. I decided to buy a few toy guns and take them to the square in order to mislead the police. It really took me some time to buy the toy guns. Eventually, I spent 90 Yuan buying two sets of toy guns equipped with an electronic watch and a computer at a nearby marketplace.
It was almost 13:00 when I came back. The others were impatient of waiting for me so they decided to use soft-drink bottles instead. Liu Xiuqin bought a dozen bottles of soft drink downstairs, emptied the bottles, and filled with gasoline. When I entered the door, they were busy fixing the bottles on their body. Some put the bottles into their bags. Liu Yunfang and I hang the bottles over neck by ropes, fixed them with adhesive tape under our armpits, then put on the sweaters and wadded jackets. We looked at each other, and confirmed everything was ok. Each of us took two single-edged blades and two lighters prepared by Hao Huijun. We took out all our money, which amounted to less than 6, 000 Yuan. We asked Liu Xiuqin to give 1, 000 Yuan to the young man mentioned above, and left the remaining for Falun Dafa events in Beijing. Liu Xiuqin suggested us sending the money home. But all of us did not agree with her, for our families knew nothing about our plan.
It was about 13:00 then. I told other people to go to the square by two taxis to avoid arousing suspicion. Since it would take us about an hour to get to the Square, we promised to take action respectively around 14:30.
Hao Huijun, Chen Guo, Liu Chunling and Liu Siying went downstairs first, caught a taxi and left. I felt rather sad at the back shadow of the two girls. I thought, “Just leave it to fate. After all they are doing the same great thing as us. What pities me is that they are still young.”
Then Liu Yunfang, Liu Baorong and I took a taxi and went directly to Tiananmen Square. On the taxi, I chatted with the driver. I talked to Liu Yunfang, but he did not respond. He looked very nervous. I had no idea what he was thinking about. But I was very calm. I asked the taxi driver to stop at the southern gate of the Great Hall of the People. Liu Yunfang and Liu Baorong headed toward the Square after they got off the car. I paid the driver and followed them to the square. I saw they walk toward the western gate of the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall. Liu Yunfang tried to enter the square through the memorial hall. But the visitors were not allowed to go through the memorial hall. So they had to go straight toward the square, though there was a soldier guarding the entrance to the square.
I entered the square from the western entrance, pretending I was reading newspaper. I looked at my watch. It told that it was half past two in the afternoon. I wandered around the monument, trying to locate where my fellow practitioners were. I had no idea whether they had already been at the square. I met Liu Yunfang and Liu Baorong at the west side of the monument. I asked Liu Yunfang, “Have you seen the others?”Liu looked very nervous. He heard my questions, but he walked straight northward as if he had not seen me. This made me doubt whether Liu Yunfang could accomplish this mission. But I thought what we had planned to do were for the Falun Dafa. Since the law body of our master was everywhere, he may know every idea and every behavior of us all. No matter what other people would do, I must complete my task to defend Falun Dafa.
When I got to the northeastern side of the monument, I found four police people in plain clothes walk toward me with their eyes staring at me. I felt it would be late if I did not take action. I used the blade I had prepared in my hand to cut through the clothes and slice the bottle, and then I threw away the blade and took out the lighter with my left hand. At that moment, the policemen hurried towards me. They saw I was holding a lighter, but they seemed as if having no idea what I was going to do. They all were stunned.
When they were ten steps away from me, I struck the lighter. The fire devoured me instantaneously; I had no time for a cross-legged sit, so I sat on one leg instead and formed the hand position. Being suffocated by the fire, I heard nothing but the whirr of the flame, but I thought my mission was about to be fulfilled.
At that moment, the policemen used something to put out the fire on me (Later I learned from the video footage that it was fire extinguishing blanket); I refused, twice. However, some other policemen managed to put out the fire with extinguishers. Greatly disappointed, I stood up and shouted, “Truthfulness, Compassion and Tolerance is the law of the universe; the law deserves to be respected by all people in the world. The Master is the major Buddha in the universe!” When the police were about to drive their car, we suddenly heard someone shout, “There is fire over there!”One of the police remained to take care of me, while the others rushed toward the places where my fellow practitioners set themselves on fire. I kept on shouting the slogans. It did not take 10 minutes that the police drove a car to me. They put me on the police car, and sent me to a hospital. But the hospital was not qualified to treat burned patients. The doctors recommended sending me to Jishuitan Hospital. The police advised me to lie on a stretcher, but I refused. I insisted walking onto the car by myself. , the police vehicle drove at a very high speed towards Jishuitan Hospital with siren on.
While lying in the moving bed in emergent treatment room, I did not feel painful or regretful at all. After a while, Chen Guo was sent into the room. She lied beside me without a word. I raised my body to look at her. Comparing what I saw with her image in my memory, I had a mixed feeling. After another while, Liu Siying and Hao Huijun were sent into the room. They were all lying quietly. But I did not see Liu Chunling, Liu Yunfang and Liu Baorong. I had a premonition that Liu Chunling may have already died. I guessed that Liu Yunfang and Liu Baorong stayed together and that they possibly did not set fire. I did not know why I had such premonition, but my premonition proved true.
I did not resent Liu Yunfang, for cultivation was actually a personal choice. I felt proud for what I had done at that time.
After the self-immolation incident, Zhang Erping, the spokesman of Falun Gong headquarters in the US published a statement, denying that we were Falun Gong followers. Instead, he said we were devils who were trying to destroy Falun Dafa. I did not take the statement seriously for I thought it as a way in which my master tested me. If we had not been deceived by Li Hongzhi, why we, a group of people at various ages who were supposed to enjoy our happy life, would have come to Tiananmen Square to set ourselves on fire?
Through the follow-up report made by the CCTV Focal Point Interview program about the self-immolation incident, I learned that the Falun Gong headquarters had directed some followers in Zhengzhou to investigate us. I was confused about it. I did not know why Li Hongzhi, who claimed to be the supreme omnipotent Buddha in the universe, needed to order his followers to make a field investigation in Kaifeng?
On July 20, 2001, CCTV journalists told me humorously, “I have good news for you. Your master has confirmed through investigations that you self-immolators are actually followers of Falun Dafa, but he said you got astray in practicing Faluun Dafa.”
But I remembered that Li Hongzhi had told us that there would be no chance to get astray in practicing Falun Dafa, for his “body of law” and “wheel of law” would teach and protect us at anytime. He concluded that Falun Gong was the safest without any risk. But I do not know how he would explain the reason why more than 1, 700 followers across the country had been confirmed to have already killed or injured themselves by refusing to see doctor, refusing to take medicines, cutting wrists, drowning or jumping from buildings, or killed or injured by other followers?
I did not believe such reports at first. I thought the reports were fabricated by the government. But I was shocked by a huge amount of facts and truth. The undeniable facts and truth made me reconsider whether what I had been pursuing with my life was right. I had to take responsibility for myself. I had to review what I had done.