Four years ago at Tian'anmen Square, a suicide attempt organized by Falun Gong left two dead and three wounded. This year, the survivors and their families bravely faced Chinese and foreign journalists.
On January 23, 2001, also the eve of Chinese Lunar New Year, seven Falun Gong followers set themselves on fire in pursuit of heavenly glory, responding to the call from cult leader Li Hongzhi.
Of the five survivors, three have been properly accommodated to receive long-term treatment and education, and two are imprisoned at Zhengzhou Prison.
“We had taken Li Hongzhi as a god in the past, but now we have seen through his tricks. His words are total nonsense and lies”, said Wang Juan, once a Falun Gong follower.
Another survivor and Wang's mother, Hao Huijun, said: “What Li Hongzhi gave me is nothing but a badly burnt face. I would never want to mention him. My daughter and I no longer have anything to do with this guy.”
Hao said that the government has arranged for nurses to take care of her family.
“The government has helped us get away from Falun Gong and live a life that an ordinary person should live,” said Wang Juan.
Hao is the wife and Wang the daughter of Wang Jindong, one of the chief organizers of the Tian'anmen Square suicide.
“The words of Li Hongzhi and Falun Gong boil down to only one word to me: 'hatred'”, said Wang Jindong.
He said he is still frightened by the fact that he was once so obsessed with the cult that he could commit the crime of murder.
After being rehabilitated, Wang worked to help other followers out of the psychological control of the cult.
Sixty-one-year-old Liu Yunfang, another survivor, said that without the quick response and rescue of police four year ago, he would have been either dead or disfigured.
He still remembers September 27, 2003, as the date he woke up to reality.
“I broke with the evil cult ever since,” he said.
Xue Hongjun, a behind the scenes organizer of the group suicide, told reporters that Li Hongzhi has cheated the world by claiming that the suicide was directed by the Chinese government to defame the cult. Xue is also currently imprisoned at Zhengzhou Prison.
However, the three former cult members said they were glad that they could talk to each other once in a while in prison about what they would do after being released.