Eat Their Class Enemies
prior to the second world war, the leftist author Nicolas Calas
appealed for "more sadism amoung leftists," and advised
"comrades, be cruel." That a communist would say this
probably won’t surprise many. The stories of the many crimes and
atrocities perpetrated by Communist regimes is generally well-known,
but what about state-sponsored cannibalism? Time Magazine
ran such a story in its January 18th, 1993 issue, titled
"Unspeakable Crimes," by Barbara Rudolph. In it is the
testimony of a Chinese scholar that during Mao’s "Cultural
Revolution" local officials of the Chinese Communist Party
exhorted their comrades to devour ‘class enemies.’
details were revealed by Zheng Yi, a fugitive of the Tiananmen Square
massacre and once China’s most-celebrated young novelist (his first
novel, The Maple, about the Cultural Revolution, was used by the
Politburo to attack The Gang of Four). His third novel made him
a celebrity in the China of the 80’s and he and his wife both joined
the pro-democracy movement. After the crackdown, his wife Bei Ming
was imprisoned for 10 months and he went into hiding for nearly
3 years until both were able to successfully escape to Hong Kong
and then onto the US.
while on the run, Zheng Yi managed to write two books detailing
the information that he had about state-sponsored cannibalism in
the Guangxi Autonomous Region in southern China. Eventually the
two manuscripts were smuggled out of China with the aid of Australian
tourists. Managing to recover several reports and documents that
were prepared in the mid-80’s but covered up to spare exposing those
involved who were then still in power in Guangxi, even though this
ran counter to Deng Xiaoping’s orders, designed to discredit Maoism,
to publicize atrocities associated with Mao’s rule, the documents
reveal that local party leaders incited locals to kill "class
enemies" and then feast on them in public ceremonies.
documents refer to "eating people as an after-dinner snack
... barbecuing people’s livers ... banqueting on human meat."
Several episodes of this are also recounted: "On May 14th,
1968, a group of 11, led by the Wei brothers captured a man named
Chen Guorong and killed him with a big knife before cutting out
his liver. They shared the human meat with 20 participants."
in May, Wu Shufang, a teacher at the Wuxuan Middle School, was beaten
to death and her liver was roasted and eaten. In June, three members
of the Li family were killed by their neighbor, Huang Chihuan, who
then cut out their livers and brought them to Yu Yuerong, who roasted
them, cut them into portions and packed them into nine separate
bags to be distributed as medicine.
1968, 91 members of the local Communist Party were expelled on charges
of involvement in cannibalism, but none were criminally punished.
Yi first heard the rumors about the cannibalism when he himself
was a member of the infamous Red Guards in northern Guangxi, but
was skeptical. Years later he began investigating them, even so
far as visiting Guangxi twice, where local officials allowed him
to read the Party investigation reports on cannibalism in Guangxi,
but also to interview eyewitnesses.
witnesses in Shanglin county, the residents recounted how one man
had his abdomen sliced open and had his liver removed while he was
still alive. An old man named Yi Wansheng, told how he had killed
a landlord’s son. "I used a knife to cut him. The first knife
was dull, so I threw it away. With another knife I was able to open
his chest. But when I tried to pull out his heart and liver, the
blood was too hot for my hand and I had to bring some water to cool
it. When I took the organs out, I cut them to pieces and shared
them with the people of the village."
says that he interviewed dozens of people who confessed to eating
human flesh, as well as having interviewed the relatives of their
victims, hundreds of victims in all.
TIME story mentions that there is no evidence that Mao himself knew
that these acts of Party-orchestrated cannibalism contributed victims
to the millions killed during the Cultural Revolution, or that other
than Zhou Enlai ordering party officials to put an end to the eating,
that any steps were taken to punish the perpetrators or stop the
killings, which persisted for much of the decade of the Cultural
fact, in the materials unearthed by Zheng Yi, at the time the Communist
inner circle in Beijing is said to have been deeply concerned about
what was going on in Guangxi. An old apparatchik told Zheng that
he had reported the extent of the murders to Premier Zhou Enlai,
who in turn sent word to the provincial army chief to warn the local
party boss that "if one more man is eaten, I will kill you."
the warning was not heeded and in the end, nothing was done, Zheng
believes, because the atrocites were too heinous for the Party to
even publicly denounce them. But, Zheng Yi believes, "the top
leadership has known about it all along."
there be any further evidence that the absolute power of the state
brings out the absolute worst in human nature?
Young [send him mail]
is studying computer science in Ontario, Canada.