Cultural Revolution Murder Trial Captivates Netizens

A Chinese octogenarian is reportedly facing trial for a murder he committed during the Cultural Revolution, according to The Telegraph’s Tom Phillips:

The defendant, from Zhejiang province in east China, was accused of killing a man he believed was a spy in 1967, according to an online report by the state-run China News Service that was later deleted.

The man, named only as Mr Qiu, stands accused of using a piece of rope to strangle his victim, who was named as Dr. Gong. After committing the murder, Mr Qiu allegedly hacked off the man’s legs and buried his body.

While the alleged murder took place more than four decades ago, Mr Qiu was reportedly only arrested in July last year. He was put on trial this week at his home in Zhejiang. So far no verdict has been made public.

The story had already reached several large news sites and web portals by the time China News Service removed the story from its web site, according to the South China Morning Post. The Wall Street Journal reports that news of the trial has sent ripples through Chinese social media:

Unlike with the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 or the Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s, the Communist Party has tolerated a certain amount of discussion of the Cultural Revolution. Numerous stories of the brutal violence the country’s youth perpetrated on their elders and each other have earned the approval of censors, creating a body of cathartic “scar literature” and its cinematic equivalent, “scar film.”

Still, very few of the crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution were prosecuted—an omission some Internet users were happy to see addressed in Mr. Qiu’s case.

“Every Cultural Revolution criminal should be resolutely pursued and held responsible. Murderers, instigators – not a single one should be left behind,” wrote one anonymous user of Sina Corp. Weibo microblogging service. “They can be treated leniently, but they must be made to take responsibility. Only then will we truly be able to come to terms with the Cultural Revolution.”

Many, however, criticized the pursuit of Mr. Qiu, arguing that there were others more deserving of punishment for the blood spilled in that era.

“The prime culprits of the Cultural Revolution get away scot free and decades later they chase down a minor murderer,” wrote Liu Xiaoyuan, a Beijing-based lawyer. “There were so many homicides during the Cultural Revolution, to pursue one little old man is a failure of judicial justice and political wisdom.”

Did Kirsten Tatlow wrote in The New York Times on Thursday that “some are angry that a little guy is being punished, and not the masterminds of the violence:”

“Have the main culprits who started the Cultural Revolution been punished?” asked a person with the handle Sansu dage, who added an angry red face to the posting.

“Actually, the biggest criminals of the Cultural Revolution have not been held responsible,” wrote a person with the handle Keji huangdan menwei chuangxin. “To pursue an ordinary criminal, decades later, is absurd.”

A_Jing wrote: “There should be mandatory courses in universities to talk clearly about the crimes against humanity during the Cultural Revolution!”

Wrote another: “All the cases from the Cultural Revolution should be tried.”

Read also about the memoirs of businesswoman Ping Fu, which contained personal accounts from the Cultural Revolution and caused controversy over its authenticity.