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Chinese Show Off Repentant Falun Gong

Now, the former factory worker seems changed.

Shuffling into a fluorescent-lit meeting room, Liu mumbled incoherently at times to reporters, his voice shaking and eyes welling with tears as he spoke of his former life. Prison officials say he is ill, suffering from high blood pressure and other maladies.

Liu said he stopped believing in Falun Gong on Sept. 27, 2003.

"I was more addicted than (the rest) so I caused more harm to the country and the government," said Liu, 60, who sat hunched in his seat. "Last time when reporters came to me, I still wanted to uphold Falun Gong, but now I know I was wrong."

He was supported by prison officials on either side when he left.

Wang, 54, is the only one in prison who set fire to himself. His face, devoid of eyebrows, is mottled with scar tissue. Some fingers have been amputated.

"It is the government that has given me a second life," Wang said. "I have totally woken up and I think I should persuade people still addicted to Falun Gong to wake up, too.

"To Li Hongzhi, I have only one word in my heart - hate - because he killed so many of our beloved and our compatriots."

Wang placed a half-dozen photos on a table: his wife and his daughter smiling, himself as a handsome young man.

"I feel ashamed about believing in Falun Gong," Wang said. "It is Falun Gong and Li Hongzhi who have ruined me."

In Kaifeng, a bustling city northeast of the prison, Wang's wife and daughter - both former Falun Gong members - live with the daughter's husband and baby in a single room tucked in a maze of alleys. The room is filled with a bed, piles of comforters, suitcases and cupboards. A map of the world hangs on the wall.

"We feel so cheated to have our deep beliefs shattered after all these years," said Wang Juan, Wang's 26-year-old daughter. "My father's change is sincere. We are filled with hope for the future."

Minutes away, Hao Huijun, 51, and her daughter Chen Guo, 23, the most physically destroyed of the Tiananmen group, live in an airy welfare home.

Flames burned off their noses, lips, ears and hair, leaving their faces and skulls shiny with scars and grafted skin. Hao - a former music teacher - has only a patch of skin over her eye sockets, with a tiny slit allowing blurry vision out of her right eye. Her hands are stubs and she is partially deaf in her right ear.

"I realized that I made a lot of trouble for the government and society," Hao said, weeping as her daughter, ill with a fever, slept in the next room.

"We are thoroughly rehabilitated."


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© 2005 The Associated Press