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PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Lin Shao, Martyr for Human Rights
Created by John Eipper on 11/27/17 3:10 AM

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Lin Shao, Martyr for Human Rights (George Zhibin Gu, China, 11/27/17 3:10 am)

One woman scholar, Lin Shao (1932-1968), has become a hero for freedom in the Reform era. A literature student at Beijing University in 1957, she fell a victim as a "rightist" during the massive anti-rightist campaign. She never gave up her convictions. To her, all the man-made tragedies were deeply rooted in the cults. Helping her motherland escape the miseries became her passion. (See Chong Weixi, Entering Into the Darkness: Memoirs of Chong Weixi, Guangzhou: Flower City Publisher, 2007, pp. 141-2.)

Because of the widespread terror, most educated elites kept silent for decades, but in 1960, Lin and some friends published a secret magazine named the Little Fire. She published one poem, calling for readers to follow the ancient Greek ideas to light up one's ribs to kill darkness. Furthermore, she wrote a book-size letter to the People's Daily and demanded changes. But she was arrested as a counter-revolutionary in October 1960. Her father committed suicide one month after her arrest, saying, "My family is gone." (Peng Lingfang, "My Sister Serves As My Role Model," in Liu Zhifeng (ed), The Light of Spirit: The History of One Generation's Inner Life, Beijing: China Business Association Publisher, 1999, p. 360.)

Why did the Party hate her? She said, "The Communist Party has totally confiscated everything from all humans as humans."

She was killed on April 29, 1968 at age 35. Immediately after, some officials went to her mother, demanding a payment of 5 cents, the cost of the bullet.

Lin's sister wrote, "On May 1, 1968 ... around 2 o'clock in the afternoon, I heard someone call my mother's name downstairs ... a police came... collected 5 cents for the bullet cost... My mother... fainted right away."

Inside the prison, for years, the torturers failed to destroy her spirit. When her sister visited her, her shirt had the word "injustice" printed in her own blood. Her last essay has the title, "History Will Announce My Innocence," which was written with her own blood. (Peng Lingfang, op cit, pp. 354-362).

In 1980, a Shanghai court reversed her verdict, but a further injustice was done. It reclassified her as a mental patient. Only in the following year was this unfair label dropped. (Interestingly, one sympathetic Party official stole the secret file and passed it to her sister. Now Lin's official file is in the Hoover Archives of Stanford University.)

Lin Shao's Friends

The Little Fire magazine was run by some former students of Lanzhou University, who were all victimized as "rightists." At the time, the University's Party victimized 194 students and teachers, 14% of the school's population. Out of them, 38 "rightist" students and one teacher became forced farm laborers in the rural Wushan and Tianshi counties of Gangsu province. They witnessed the farmers' miseries. Even some 13-14-year-old girls were too poor to wear clothes. They walked on the streets with little smocks. As the official abuses skyrocketed, innumerable farmers perished in the man-made famine beginning in late 1958. Quickly, they identified the killer: the one-party dictatorship. They desired to make a change even under threat of imprisonment or worse.

In January 1960, many friends in this group published the secret magazine. Its publication announcement went:

"It is time to get clear minds ... After years of going backward, the rulers have stepped into their deadly cycles, which cannot be salvaged at all. They are repeating step by step the failure of the Qin dynastic ruler. Why has this once progressive Communist Party become so corrupt and reactionary after just a 10-year rule? Why is this Party trapped by complaints domestically and isolated in the international community? It is all because this Party has taken the entire population and society as its private property and allowed the Party members to dominate all people's affairs, big and small. It is also because of the endless Anti-Rightist Campaign and endless miracle-seeking Great Leap Forward Campaign, this Party is accelerating to its death ...We must struggle to eliminate this authoritarian power...." ("Lin Shao's Comrades," May 25, 2010, at http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_70b949660100v8s7.html )

They planned to mail their analysis of the people's communes to many officials in power nationwide. But prior to the printing of the second issue, they were imprisoned. The Party claimed a big victory over this counter-revolutionary group. Even some local farmers and officials became victims. In all, 43 people were imprisoned.

In 1970, prisoner Zhang Chunyuan (1932-1970), the group's leader, was executed. How about other victims in this group? Many victims were imprisoned for two decades. Also, a concerned county-level deputy Party chief, Du Yinghua (1927-1970), who supported these students, was killed in 1970 as well.

These victims and their voices would have been forgotten, but one surviving victim, the scholar Tan Chanxue (1934-), who was Zhang's girlfriend and schoolmate, published their story in a book titled In Search: Documenting the Rightist Counter-Revolutionary Group of Lanzhou University. (Hong Kong: Tianma Publisher, 2010). In particular, through bitter struggles, she was able to obtain the old papers, which took her 12 years. One surviving victim names their old act "a youthful song." Since the book is published in Hong Kong, Mainlanders must wait to read it.

Into the 21st century, Lin Shao has become a public symbol of an independent spirit. Many educated elites pay tributes to her memory and more and more youth desire to know more about her struggles in particular and history in general. In particular, one educated elite named Hu Jie, formerly an employee of Xinhua News Agency, spent years making a special film named In Search of Lin Shao's Soul, all funded by his small savings. (The film plus some other related products can be found at http://www.verykim.com/share/B51E156CD4A64477B9CC584FF0CACE20.html . Also, the film's transcript can be accessed at http://www.doc88.com/p-605926678387.html Though the film is banned, it has spread far on the Internet.

Today, some brave educators share the film with their students. But such acts remain risky. In one case, in 2005, one teacher named Lu Xuesong of Jilin Art School showed the film in her media class. The school's Party suspended her from work. Furthermore, despite wide protects on the Internet, the police searched her home. Soon, they gave her one-year labor prison sentence with probation. One scholar cries, "Let the souls stand up freely!" (Various discussions on the event of Lu Xuesong, at http://www.aisixiang.com/data/search.php?keyWords=%C2%AC%D1%A9%CB%C9&searchfield=keywords , and "Evolving Events of Lu Xuesong," April 6, 2012, at http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_903946da0100z3s6.html

JE comments: George Zhibin Gu is a very brave scholar, and his work is preserving in turn the countless acts of bravery that kept the Chinese spirit alive during the darkest repression. This is George's eighth or ninth WAIS post in recent weeks, and I hope he'll send us many more.  His are stories that need to be known worldwide.

I had heard of the cruelty of forcing the families to pay for the 5-cent bullet used to execute a prisoner.  Was this a universal practice in China?  Imagine the horror and humiliation of getting that knock on the door.


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