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Sunday, 18 March, 2001, 21:18 GMT
Tiananmen 'suicide' girl dies
Liu Siying
Liu Siying was treated for her injuries at Beijing hospital
A 12-year-old girl who doused herself in gasoline and set herself on fire in Beijing's Tiananmen Square has died of her injuries, according to reports on Chinese state television.

Liu Siying is believed to have been a member of the outlawed Chinese Falun Gong sect.

She was among five people, including her mother Liu Chungling who died at the scene, to stage a protest in Beijing's central square on 23 January this year.

Falun Gong member
Many Falun Gong followers are middle-aged women
According to the reports, the youngster, who for the past two months has been receiving treatment for her injuries at Beijing hospital, died of sudden heart troubles on Sunday night.

The three other members of the group, two women and one man, are still receiving hospital treatment for their burns.

Falun Gong has denied the five were members of their organisation, saying its teachings do not condone suicide.

Evil cult

Officials in China used the protest, which took place on the eve of the country's traditional New Year celebrations, to drive home its message that Falun Gong was an evil cult.

Disturbing images of the five ablaze in Tiananmen Square were broadcast on state television.

Falun Gong attracted millions in the 1990s with its mix of traditional Chinese religion, health exercises and teachings of founder Li Hongzhi, a former government grain clerk who now lives in exile in the US.

police on Tiananmen Square
Hundreds of police sealed off the square
The sect was outlawed in July 1999 after the group surprised Chinese officials when more than 10,000 members surrounded the leadership's living compound in Beijing demanding official recognition.

Falun Gong members have held regular demonstrations in Tiananmen Square over the last two years to protest against the government ban.

Thousands of people have been arrested and organisers have received lengthy jail terms.

The movement also says more than 100 people have been beaten to death in custody - an allegation denied by the authorities.

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See also:

23 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Tiananmen Square security operation
01 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Police break up Falun Gong demo
13 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Falun Gong member dies after beating
22 Jul 99 | Asia-Pacific
The complex Web of Falun Gong
26 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Falun Gong: Living in fear
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