July 24, 2006

Rural migrant worker sets himself on fire on Tiananmen Square

A rural migrant worker set himself on fire on Tiananmen Square in Beijing on 20 July reportedly due to unpaid wages.

Wang Cong'an, a 53-year-old native of Jiangsu province in eastern China, doused himself in gasoline and set himself ablaze in the middle of this popular tourist destination at 8:44 AM on Thursday, according to the Agence France-presse which quoted a faxed statement from the local police.

"He performed the self-immolation over a financial dispute with a construction company in Yuanan County, Hubei province," the statement said.

Security guards on the square quickly put out the flames and rushed the man to hospital, according to the statement. It said Wang remained in hospital but was not in critical condition.

According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Wang was seriously burned.

However, the official Xinhua News Agency ran a slightly different version of Wang's background from that provided in the police statement. The news agency quoted police information as saying that Wang came from Yichang City in Hubei Province and had gone to Beijing to call on higher authorities for help in getting his unpaid wages.

Sources: Agence France-presse (21 July 2006), SCMP.com (21 July 2006)


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