Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Red Guard Apology

" “You set a good example:” A Red Guard apology
By Wang Youqin (王友琴), translation by Timothy Hathaway

I’ve seen a few letters recently that have to do with things which happened 44 years ago. Several middle school students who were Red Guards in 1966 wrote them to apologize to the teachers they “struggled against” at the time. Since I am a researcher of history, I thought it would be a good idea to write about it and let the world know.

One side of the story concerns the teacher Cheng Bi (程璧) who is 86 this year. She was in charge of Beijing Foreign Languages School during the Cultural Revolution, and just like so many others in education, Ms. Cheng first had her responsibilities revoked and later was imprisoned in the school. She suffered insults and was savagely beaten. They shaved half of her scalp to give a “yin-yang head.”

I conducted an investigation on this. In August of 1966, the Red Guards from Beijing Foreign Languages School beat to death a kindergarten worker named Liu Guilan (刘桂兰) in the auditorium with wooden sticks, belts, and water pipes. Those under persecution were called “demons and monsters” [牛鬼蛇神] back then and were the ones forced to carry her body away. Ms. Cheng and Director of Instruction Yao Shuxi (姚淑禧) each grabbed a leg and dragged her away. Yao Shuxi was beaten many times herself. One night five different groups of Red Guards attacked her. She was found in the ladies latrine with a rope around her neck as she dangled from a sewer pipe after “having committed suicide.”

Another side of the story concerns eight Red Guards from Beijing Foreign Languages School in 1966. They were teenagers 44 years ago, so now they are all about 60. They have apologized to Ms. Cheng Bi and repented of the violence and persecution they perpetrated that year.

A massive wave of violence started by the Red Guards in Beijing swept throughout the country in August of 1966. They beat 1772 people to death in in Beijing alone (according to a December 20, 1980 report in Beijing Daily). The number of people who suffered and the savagery which was used was unprecedented. The victims were [politically] rehabilitated around 1979 and families of the deceased received 420 yuan in “compensation.” What are those perpetrators of the violence from that year thinking now? Do they admit to their failures? Are they willing to apologize to the victims? Can they repent? Many people aren’t so sure.

I have not investigated these people myself, so I have no way of knowing how representative the eight who apologized are in comparison to the whole population of Red Guards. However, I am convinced that this action is worthy of praise."

Read all the article here:文章翻译:“you-set-a-good-example”-a-red-guard-apology/


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