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Mao's Red Guard seeks forgiveness for brutal deeds

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

In a rare apology, a former member of the dreaded Red Guards, found by Mao Zedong in China, has sought public forgiveness for his 'evil deeds' during the decade-long Cultural Revolution.

"The chaos of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) was not an excuse for my own evil deeds; this is the painful result of reflections from the autumn of my life," reads an apology printed in a recent issue of the Chinese magazine 'Yanhuang Chunqiu'.

"This has been a rock in my heart for years," said Liu Boqin, 61, a retired official in Ji'nan, Shandong Province, who paid for an advertisement to print the apology despite huge family pressure who believed the public might view him as a villain.

He was expressing remorse for the violence he committed when he was 14 against teachers and classmates as a Red Guard, a report in state-run Global Times said today.

Liu's apology quickly stirred up complex national memories, 37 years after a dark era of Chinese history, and drew massive compliments for his courage and humanity because the public have rarely seen these kinds of confessions from perpetrators of violence during that period, the report said.

Red Guards were a mass of paramilitary social movement of young people to enforce communism in the country to eliminate capitalists, traditional and cultural personalities and to impose Maoist ideology within the Chinese Communist Party.

The movement quickly descended into attacks on people as the Red Guards who were tasked to conduct it targeted intellectuals and officials accusing them of being bourgeoisie elements resulting in the killings of millions besides inflicting psychological trauma on a host of others.

It was renounced and abandoned after the death of Mao in 1976 by his successor Deng Xiaoping, who himself was exiled to a tractor repair factory during that period.

"I beat Li Changyi, our dean, and forced my teacher Bi Dezhi to sing 'the song of monsters'. I made up 'reactionary slogans' for my art teacher Hu Xihe's comics, which were extremely absurd and shameful," he said in the confession.

"Li was almost 60 at the time. Students forced him to bow and poured half a bottle of red ink over his bald head, and whipped him with a kitchen rug," said Li Gang, "Such things happened around the nation; young people went crazy," he said.

The ideology behind defeating the "poisonous enemy class" created numerous tragic stories, claiming tens of thousands of lives.

Apologies like these have been extremely rare over the past few decades.

Over 50,000 netizens showed their respect for people like Liu on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo calling it "salvation for our country, which doesn't have a tradition of confession," also saying they wished more people could stand up and face history.

First Published: Fri, June 21 2013. 16:00 IST