Soul-searching former Red Guard won praises on Weibo
A former Red Guard made a written apology for his evils during the Cultural Revolution last week, the first of its kind in China.
Liu Boqin, a man in his 60s, was a second-year student at Jinan No.1 Middle School (equivalent of eighth grade in the U.S.) at the start of the Cultural Revolution in eastern China’s Shandong province. His ‘Earnest Apology’ was published in the June issue of Yanhuang Chunqiu, a Chinese-language magazine.
In the apology, he wrote, “Back then, because I was young, ignorant and instigated by others, and also I had an obstinate personality that could not distinguish the good from the evil, I took part in struggle sessions against teachers and leaders of our school, including Bi Dezhi, Li Changyi, Hu Xihe, Zhu Lin, and played a role in ransacking the homes of my classmates Zhang Nianquan and Han Guiyin.”
He also confessed to having harassed families of his neighbors, which he believes caused ‘great harm to them and their relatives.’
“After some painful soul-searching in my twilight years, (I realized) even though duress of the bigger environment of Cultural Environment is one factor, there is no denying that I should also be held accountable for my individual evil,” he wrote, “Here I offer my sincere apology to those who I hurt and harmed. I wish my previous sins could be forgiven.”
Red Guards were Chinese middle school and elementary school students during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) who, with Mao’s approval, usurped control of factories, schools and institutes and purged intellectuals, literary and art workers, officials and merchants to push for what they call a permanent revolution.
Red Guards congregated in Tiananmen Square, anxious to be greeted by Mao.
A propaganda poster during the Cultural Revolution that reads, “The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution must be waged to the end.”
Mao and other senior Communist leaders stood atop Tiananmen to greet Red Guards underneath.
Yanhuang Chunqiu is a liberal magazine with ties to reformists within the Chinese Communist Party. It began its publication in 1991. Its editors include Du Daozheng, a former high-level Party official and aide to former pro-reform leader Zhao Ziyang ousted for his sympathy for students after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, and Yang Jisheng, a veteran journalist and author of Tombstone, an expose on the Great Leap Forward movement in late 1950s and early 1960s that resulted in tens of millions of death in China.
Liu Boqin’s public apology for his acts during the Cultural Revolution received widespread accolates from Chinese netizens. On Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, an overwhelming majority of commentors applauded him while saying, other Red Guards should also show their remorse.
Selected comments from Sina Weibo:
潇湘秦火火：This is the first Red Guard to openly apologize. He is alone, because other Red Guards still remain silent. Do they really have no regrets or remorse at all?
山水free：What our countrymen lack is the courage for introspection.
袁腾飞：Pity that there are too few voices like this.
大路两旁一排白杨: Hats off to this old man who has apologized!
滴的过往：In broad daylight, let’s give the truth back to the history and leave the goodwill in our hearts.
裴宣手札：I truly hope that every person that did something during the Cultural Revolution that is worthy of a confession can confess to it in the newspaper and receive forgiveness from the victims. If the authorities do not apologize, let us ordinary people apologize. I think this will gradually form a trend.
Typical scenes of struggle sessions against intellectuals and officials during the Cultural Revolution, which involved public humiliation and physical, sometimes fatal, attacks.