Watching the ‘Red Detachment of Women’ in 1964 in China

29 September, 2011 at 10:06 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution | Leave a comment
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By Angela Wang
Epoch Times Staff

People who have been brought up in a democracy don’t know, they can’t imagine, what it was like. In the whole country there was a rule for everything; everything was regulated. In school, students were allowed to learn only one foreign language: Russian. No matter where a school was located, as long as it was on the map of China, and no matter whether it was an elementary school, high school or college, a book could only be taught in one way.

During the Great Cultural revolution, there were only eight model plays for the whole country’s seven hundred million people to watch. Any other play was judged to be feudal, bourgeois, revisionist—something to be destroyed, abandoned, eradicated, overthrown. How about books? The situation was even worse, there were only Mao’s works, which were called the “red treasure.”

For us, the generation born after 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power, the generation “born under the red flag, and brought up under the red flag,” we knew nothing about what life was like before. In the whole country there was only one voice to be heard. All the media were controlled by the CCP. Whatever the media said, we took for granted that it was true.

We thought our situation was normal, that every country was the same, and that every government was the same. We did not miss hearing different voices because we did not know they could exist.

We were just like what Mao once described: pure like blank paper, easy to paint a new and beautiful picture on. Yes, we were smeared by the CCP with whatever they wanted to put on us. All around us were lies, but we didn’t know. No one dared to tell the truth, just as in the story about the emperor’s new clothes.

When as teenagers we watched the movie of “The Red Detachment of Women” in 1964 in Tianjin City, we were so deeply impressed. We thought the story was all true. Because we did not tell lies, we did not think others did. Now we know there was never a person, not in the past or now, like the “tyrant of the south,” Nan Ba Tian. And there was never a victimized peasant girl like the heroine Wu Qinghua. It was a total lie. But the play had an effect, as the CCP had hoped it would.

When we watched the play, we had a deep feeling in our hearts that all landlords were evil, hateful, unforgiveable. They should be hacked to pieces. The only way to deal with them was to kill them, no matter how it was done.

If a person was only said to be a landlord, then it was the same as sentencing him or her to death. The hatred immediately came up in our hearts. And a landlord was not a single person, the landlords were a class, and so this was a serious class fight.

Killing Life

I thought I had forgotten and had left these memories in the past. But today they unfold before me scene by scene like a movie. They have not faded at all with time’s passage.

One day, everyone was good and kind enough, but then just the next day, everything changed.

One of our teachers, a gentle, old man with grey hair, in his sixties I guess, was held by his students in a small room. One of my classmates was a secretary of the Communist Youth League and belonged to one of the Five Red Categories (people were sorted out into different classes according to their family background. The Five Red Categories included such types as revolutionary cadres and poor peasants. The Five Black Categories included landlords, capitalists, counter-revolutionaries, and so on.).

She threw the old man down, denounced him, and beat him in front of all of us. She interrogated him and forced him to admit his “counterrevolutionary acts.” She called him by the name “Lang Laojian” or “Old Scoundrel Lang.” The students thought he was from a family that was not good.

So many teachers had taken such care for their students, but then the students they had loved so much turned them into prisoners. Their beloved students whipped them, tortured them, and insulted them in so many ways.

Some of the teachers had a brick hung around their necks. Some of the younger female teachers had their heads forcibly shaved into the Yin and Yang style—half the head was bald and half left with hair. The teachers were made to feel so shamed by this that they felt they would rather die. Many were beaten to death and some committed suicide.

Those of us who were not in the Five Red Categories were on the edge; we just wanted to be considered revolutionaries.

One day in the middle of the summer in 1966—I forget whether it was hot or not, I could not think of that at that time—we got a notice from the Red Guards. If we wanted to stand on the right side, we should go to attend their rally. They would criticize and struggle with those counter revolutionaries—the landlords, capitalists, and scholars.

It was at the small square of the North Train station in Tianjin. Hundreds of people circled around a middle-aged woman. Her neighborhood committee had said that she had been a landlord before 1949. So the Red Guards raided her home and brought her to the square.

They forced her to kneel down on a narrow bench, but the bench was so narrow that she could not stay on it. She fell down off the bench, and then over and over they forced her to kneel on it again. Later someone grabbed her youngest son and put him there to be criticized together with her.

The child sat on the ground and silently cried. Someone whispered that he was only seven years old. One of the red guards whipped the mother with a belt, and another tried to force the boy to beat his mom, to show he would draw a line between him and his mom. The boy did not make a move. He only sat there silently on the ground with the tears rolling down his cheeks.

Read more: Watching the ‘Red Detachment of Women’ in 1964 in China | Opinion | Epoch Times

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