Red Guards Apologize For Cultural Revolution
Women who graduated from Beijing Normal University
Girls High School between1966 and 1968 have spoken out.
In a meeting with their former teachers and
their families, the women apologized for
their actions during the Cultural Revolution.
In the book, “Victims of the Cultural Revolution",
author Wang Youqin exposed many painful
memoirs of teachers killed by the students.
An alumni of the school, Wang Youqin urged Chinese
people to reflect on their history, and not to forget it.
Bian Zhongyun was Deputy Principle of
Beijing Normal University Girls High School.
On August 5, 1966, Bian was killed during a
Cultural Revolution campaign, for criticizing and
denouncing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Bian Zhongyun was the first teacher to be
murdered by the Red Guards in Beijing.
Wang Youqin, is a graduate of Beijing
Normal University Girls High School.
She became Director of the Chinese Language
Program, East Asian Languages and Civilizations
(EALC), at the University of Chicago.
In her research, “Victims of the Cultural Revolution",
the biography of Bian Zhongyun was detailed.
Wang Youqin: “The Beijing Normal University
Girls High School’s teacher was the first to
be killed in Beijing, and the second in the nation.
A teacher had already been killed in Nanjing on August 3.
Then the massive Red Guards rally took place on August 18
in Tiananmen Square, which became known as 8-18 Rally."
During the Cultural Revolution, Song Binbin, a
daughter of an Admiral, was the Red Guards leader
at Beijing Normal University Girls High School.
According to “Victims of the Cultural Revolution",
Song Binbin pinned a red armband on Mao Zedong
in Tiananmen Square on August 18, 1966.
Mao asked her name. After her reply,
Mao answered, “Yao Wu (to arm well)".
Two days later, on August 20, an article entitled,
“I put on a red armband for Chairman Mao", appeared in
Chinese Communist Party newspaper, Guangming Daily.
It was authored by “Song Yaowu".
Wang Youqin: “She had the conversation with Mao Zedong
in Tiananmen Square about the Yao Wu (to arm well).
Looking back at history, it is very clear that two
teachers in Beijing were killed prior to the 8-18 rally.
The teacher at Song Binbin’s school was one of them."
Song Binbin, a naturalized American, obtained a doctorate
in Geochemistry in the US, after the Cultural Revolution.
In the meeting on the January 12, Song Binbin
apologized to former teachers and students.
She said that she did not and could not stop others
from attacking Principal Bian and other school leaders.
Song herself feared being charged with
“opposing to fight the bourgeois elements".
Wang Youqin had witnessed the first half hour of
the session where Principal Bian was criticised.
After interviewing other witnesses, she described how
five victims were hit by wooden sticks with nails in.
Upon being hit, the nails would pierce holes in
the skin, and blood would gush out immediately.
Over the past three years, Song Binbin has
strongly refuted Wang Youqin’s criticism of
her behavior during the Cultural Revolution.
Wang Youqin explained that she never
said Song Binbin killed the principal.
She only described Song’s role in attacking the teachers.
Wang Youqin describes how the killing escalated in Beijing,
and a total of 1,772 people were killed after the 8-18 Rally.
That is the reason why she particularly pointed
out the meaning and role of the 8-18 Rally in
the development of the Red Guards violence.
Song Binbin’s apology to the school leaders and
students came as a surprise to Wang Youqin.
During the past three years, Song Binbin has strongly
attacked her research about victims of the Cultural Revolution.
However, Wang Youqin believes the apology is a good thing.
Wang Youqin: “This is an improvement.
Regardless of whether the apology is sincere
or, as many suspect, is only a whitewash,
it is nevertheless important that it’s an apology.
The apology indicates that they know their wrongs.
What is surprising is that, after 47 years, we still
need to engage in such heated debate to prove this."
Wang Youqin discusses her survey
of 10 girls high schools in Beijing.
In August 1966, which became known as Red August, there
were 6 people, 13 principals, and 3 teachers beaten to death.
Wang Youqin: “We need to clarify the facts
of this cruel, barbaric and bloody past.
We should also reflect on this past, to prevent
something like this from happening again.
Is it not already?"
Last October, former Red Guard Chen Xiaolu, the
son of General Chen Yi, made a public apology to
the teachers attacked during the Cultural Revolution.
Subsequently, the debate to remember and reflect
on the Cultural Revolution has gathered momentum.
Interview & Edit/QinXue Post-Production/ShuCan