By Tom Bannister
Several million people died violent deaths during the Cultural Revolution and over a hundred million people were persecuted. Published accounts of how these millions suffered and died have been slowly drip-fed to the nation in increasing volume. Now one account, that had previously faced strict censorship, is freely available online. Written by Tan Hecheng, it is entitled Bloody Myth: An Account of the Cultural Revolution Massacre of 1967 in Daoxian, Hunan 《血的神话: 公元1967年湖南道县文革大屠杀纪实》. It gives an account of the bloody deaths of 9,000 people in a Hunan county at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. The Australian details some of the experiences described in the book:
The militia seized a young man called He Yuanneng whose family had been rich – by the pathetic standards of rural China – before “liberation”. He had a pretty girlfriend. “F*** your mother, we sons of peasants can’t find wives so why should a landlord’s puppy like you get such a pretty girl?” said the village leader, named only as Zhou. He ordered the militia to truss He with a heavy stone and throw him into the Xiao Shui River.
People recovered 9,000 corpses from the Xiao Shui, so many that they choked the inlet to a power station. Sales of fish stopped after people claimed to find ears and eyes in the creatures’ stomachs. A witness, Yang Zong, who was 17 at the time, told how he was ordered to go out in a small boat and collect bodies, many naked, headless and bound together by wire. One woman had a dead infant in her arms.
The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) has long been publicly denounced by the Chinese government but the way its stories are told remains sensitive. Most people holding positions of power over the past couple of decades spent their formative years during this chaotic period, a time when many people did things that they would not be proud of today. Xi Jinping was ‘sent-down’ to work in the countryside due to his persecuted father, and Deng Xiaoping’s son was famously crippled for life.