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China Jails Four Over Falun Gong Self-Immolation - 2001-08-17


China has jailed four people who were convicted of organizing January's self-immolation protest by members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement.

China's official Xinhua News Agency says a Beijing court has found four people guilty of masterminding and assisting Falun Gong followers to commit suicide. The court Friday handed down sentences ranging from seven years to life in prison.

But it did not say if the four sentenced are members of the movement, which has been banned as an evil cult for more than two years.

Xinhua says the five people who set themselves on fire on Tiananmen Square in January were deeply obsessed by the Falun Gong movement. Falun Gong has denied the tragic incident was staged by its followers because its teachings prohibit suicide.

State media used graphic and disturbing images of the self-immolation to help gain support for a relentless government campaign to stamp out the spiritual group. Human rights groups say that around 200 Falun Gong followers have died in detention since the crackdown began.

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