November 16, 2011
A Chinese man set himself on fire in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in what is thought to be the first act of self-immolation at the scene of the 1989 pro-democracy protests for more than a decade.
The incident – which happened on October 21 – appeared nowhere in China’s censored state media, but was also witnessed by a Daily Telegraph reader who photographed the aftermath as Chinese police rushed to douse the flames using fire extinguishers.
“The man did it right in front of me. He stepped over the low railing in front of the cycle-lane that runs past the picture of Chairman Mao. He was only two or three metres away from me,” recalled Alan Brown, a retired RAF Engineer from Somerton, Somerset.
“He said something quickly and a policeman nearby was suddenly agitated, but this chap whipped out his lighter and set himself on fire. Without being melodramatic, he looked straight at me and set himself on fire.
“The policeman initially leapt back and then grabbed a fire extinguisher from his motorbike and put the man out,” added Mr Brown, who was holidaying in China with his wife, Pamela.
This article was posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 4:36 am