Chairman Mao Tse-Tung and Robert Williams during the 1960s when he was granted political asylum in the People's Republic of China. He returned to the United States in 1969., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
21 February 2013
Last updated at 08:42 ET
China Cultural Revolution murder trial sparks debate
The trial in China of an elderly man accused of murder during the Cultural Revolution has sparked online debate.
The man, reportedly in his 80s and surnamed Qiu, is accused of killing a doctor he believed was a spy.
The Cultural Revolution, launched by Mao Zedong in 1966, was an era of violence against intellectuals and other alleged bourgeois elements.
Some have questioned why one man is on trial so belatedly when so few officials have been brought to account.
Prosecutors say that in 1967 Mr Qiu, from Zhejiang province, strangled the doctor with a rope.
Charges were filed against him in the 1980s and he was arrested last year, Global Times reported.
Mao's 10-year Cultural Revolution was intended to produce massive social, economic and political upheaval to overthrow the old order.
Ordinary citizens - particularly the young - were encouraged to challenge the privileged, resulting in the persecution of hundreds of thousands of people who were considered intellectuals or otherwise enemies of the state.
The BBC's John Sudworth in Shanghai says the topic of what went on during the Cultural Revolution remains highly sensitive in China and public discussion of it is limited, but that the trial has caused fierce debate online.
One user said on the Weibo micro-blogging site described the case as a farce, saying:
"Do they really think this reflects the rule of law?"
The South China Morning Post quoted one internet user as asking: "What about those big names who started the Cultural Revolution? "How come they never took any responsibility?"
However some internet users was a step in the right direction.
"This is good, at least it sends out the message that those who did evil will pay back one day," wrote one user.
The state-run China Youth Daily published an outspoken editorial comparing the excesses of the period to the Nazi atrocities in Europe.
"The most shocking thing about the Cultural Revolution was the assault on human dignity. Insults, abuse, maltreatment and homicide were common. The social order was in chaos," it said.
It suggested that unless the period was finally allowed to be openly reviewed there was a danger of the chaos and violence returning, warning that many people harbour nostalgic views of it.
Chinese Anger over Cultural Revolution Trial
by Naharnet Newsdesk 21 February 2013, 06:41
China's Internet users cried foul Thursday over the trial of an elderly man for an alleged murder decades ago during the political and social upheaval of the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong.
China has never publicly estimated how many died in the decade-long period, during which people turned on their neighbors. Half a million died in 1967 alone, according to British historian Roderick MacFarquhar.
"The biggest murderer in the Cultural Revolution has no responsibility, while a common murderer is held accountable decades later," attorney Liu Xiaoyuan wrote on his Twitter-like weibo microblog.
The state-run China News Service reported Wednesday that a man in his eighties had gone on trial in the eastern province of Zhejiang this week for the 1967 murder of a doctor suspected of being a spy.
The defendant, surnamed Qiu, was accused of strangling his victim with a rope before cutting off his legs and burying him.
Qiu was a member of "an armed group" during the decade of upheaval known as the Cultural Revolution, the report said, adding that he was arrested last July.
Another weibo user called Qiu a "pawn", adding: "You don't dare punish" people who should be held accountable such as senior officials.
A woman surnamed Zheng at the People's Court in the Zhejiang city of Ruian, told Agence France Presse Thursday that the trial had been completed and a verdict could come in the next few days.
"There is a high chance we will give him a suspended sentence," she said, citing the defendant's advanced age.
The Cultural Revolution was launched in 1966 by Mao, who called on ordinary citizens to struggle against the privileged, resulting in attacks on government officials, intellectuals and other groups.
Memories of the episode remain raw in China, and a full historical accounting has never been released by the country's communist authorities.
"There are so many people who died in the Cultural Revolution," wrote another Internet user Wednesday. "Wasn't that stirred up by a certain party?"
"What are you doing?", the user continued. "Intend to show how efficient your work is? Or how impartial you are when you enforce the law? It is just a show!"
Source: Agence France Presse