Man Set Self Ablaze in Tiananmen Square: Witness
Chinese state media didn't report Oct. 21 incident
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2011 1:52 PM CST
A Chinese police officer stands near a police van stationed on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, in this Oct. 15, 2011 file photo.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(Newser) – In what's believed to be the first of self-immolation in the infamous and heavily-policed Tiananmen Square since 2001, the Telegraph reports that a man set himself on fire there. The incident is also unusual in that Chinese state media didn’t report the Oct. 21 incident—instead, a Telegraph reader happened to witness the act and snap a picture of the aftermath. "The man did it right in front of me," he says.

"He said something quickly and a policeman nearby was suddenly agitated, but this chap whipped out his lighter and set himself on fire," the witness says. "Without being melodramatic, he looked straight at me and set himself on fire." Several hundred other Chinese bystanders also saw the incident. China’s press department today confirmed the story after being shown the photo, saying the man had been taken to the hospital and "has now pulled through." They said the man burned himself "because of discontent over the outcome of a civil litigation." Click to see the photo.