Crimes against humanity under communist regimes
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Under Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong was the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party which took control of China in 1949 until his death in September 1976. During this time, he instituted several reform efforts, the most notable of which were the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. In January 1958, Mao launched the first five-year plan, the latter part of which was known as the Great Leap Forward. The plan was intended to expedite production and heavy industry as a supplement to economic growth similar to the Soviet model and the defining factor behind Mao’s Chinese Marxist policies. Mao spent ten months touring the country in 1958 in order to gain support for the Great Leap Forward and inspect the progress that had already been made. What this entailed was the humiliation, public castigation and torture of all who questioned the leap. The five-year-plan first instituted the division of farming communities into communes. The Chinese National Programme for Agricultural Development (NPAD) began to accelerate its drafting plans for the countries industrial and agricultural outputs. The drafting plans were initially successful as the Great Leap Forward divided the Chinese workforce and production briefly soared.
Eventually, the planners developed even more ambitious goals such as replacing the draft plans for 1962 with those for 1967 and the industries developed supply bottlenecks, but they could not meet the growth demands. Rapid industrial development came in turn with a swelling of urban populations. Due to the furthering of collectivization, heavy industry production and the stagnation of the farming industry that did not keep up with the demands of population growth in combination with a year (1959) of unfortunate weather in farming areas, only 170 million tons of grain were produced, far below the actual amount of grain which the population needed. Mass starvation ensued and it was made even worse in 1960, when only 144 million tons of grain were produced, a total amount which was 26 million tons lower than the total amount of grain that was produced in 1959. The government instituted rationing, but between 1958 and 1962 it is estimated that at least 10 million people died of starvation. The famine did not go unnoticed and Mao was fully aware of the major famine that was sweeping the countryside, but rather than try to fix the problem he blamed it on counterrevolutionaries who were “hiding and dividing grain”. Mao even symbolically decided to abstain from eating meat in honor of those who were suffering.
Due to the widespread famine across the country, there were many reports of human cannibalism and horrific stories included that of a farmer from Hunan who was forced to kill and eat his own child. When questioned about it, he said he did it “out of mercy”. An original estimate of the final death toll ranged from 15 to 40 million. According to Frank Dikötter, a chair professor of humanities at the University of Hong Kong and the author of Mao’s Great Famine, a book which details the Great Leap Forward and the consequences of the strong armed implementation of the economic reform, the total number of people who were killed in the famine which lasted from 1958 to 1962 ran upwards of 45 million. Of those who were killed in the famine, 6–8% of them were often tortured first and then prematurely killed by the government, 2% of them committed suicide and 5% of them died in Mao’s labor camps which were built to hold those who were labelled “enemies of the people“. In an article for The New York Times, Dikötter also references severe punishments for slight infractions such as being buried alive for stealing a handful of grain or losing an ear and being branded for digging up a potato. Higher up the chain of command, a chairman in an executive meeting in 1959 expressed apathy with regard to the widespread suffering, stating: “When there is not enough to eat, people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill”.
Mass killings under communist regimes
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Chinese Communist Party came to power in China in 1949 after a long and bloody civil war between communists and nationalists. There is a general consensus among historians that after Mao Zedong seized power, his policies and political purges directly or indirectly caused the deaths of tens of millions of people. Based on the Soviets’ experience, Mao considered violence to be necessary in order to achieve an ideal society that would be derived from Marxism and as a result he planned and executed violence on a grand scale.
Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries
The first large-scale killings under Mao took place during his land reform and the counterrevolutionary campaign. In official study materials that were published in 1948, Mao envisaged that “one-tenth of the peasants” (or about 50,000,000) “would have to be destroyed” to facilitate agrarian reform. The exact number of people who were killed during Mao’s land reform is believed to have been lower, but at least one million people were killed. The suppression of counterrevolutionaries targeted mainly former Kuomintang officials and intellectuals who were suspected of disloyalty. At least 712,000 people were executed and 1,290,000 were imprisoned in labor camps.
Great Leap Forward and the Great Chinese Famine
Benjamin Valentino claims that the Great Leap Forward was a cause of the Great Chinese Famine and the worst effects of the famine were steered towards the regime’s enemies. Those who were labeled “black elements” (religious leaders, rightists and rich peasants) in earlier campaigns died in the greatest numbers because they were given the lowest priority in the allocation of food. In Mao’s Great Famine, historian Frank Dikötter writes that “coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the very foundation of the Great Leap Forward” and it “motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history.” Dikötter estimates that at least 2.5 million people were summarily killed or tortured to death during this period. His research in local and provincial Chinese archives indicates the death toll was at least 45 million: “In most cases the party knew very well that it was starving its own people to death.” In a secret meeting at Shanghai in 1959, Mao issued the order to procure one third of all grain from the countryside, saying: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.” In light of additional evidence of Mao’s culpability, Rummel added those killed by the Great Famine to his total for Mao’s democide for a total of 77 million killed.[bl]
Main article: Cultural Revolution
Sinologists Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals estimate that between 750,000 and 1.5 million people were killed in the violence of the Cultural Revolution in rural China alone. Mao’s Red Guards were given carte blanche to abuse and kill people who were perceived to be enemies of the revolution. In August 1966, over 100 teachers were murdered by their students in western Beijing.
Yang Su writes that Mao’s government designated class enemies using an artificial and arbitrary standard in order to accomplish two political tasks: “mobilizing mass compliance and resolving elite conflict”. The elastic nature of the category allowed it to “take on a genocidal dimension under extraordinary circumstances.”[bm] Finkel and Strauss write that Su estimates up to three million people were “murdered by their neighbors in collective killings and struggle rallies. This happened even though the central government had not issued any mass killing orders or policies.”
Main article: History of Tibet (1950–present)
According to Jean-Louis Margolin in The Black Book of Communism, the Chinese communists carried out a cultural genocide against the Tibetans. Margolin states that the killings were proportionally larger in Tibet than they were in China proper and “one can legitimately speak of genocidal massacres because of the numbers that were involved.” According to the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration, “Tibetans were not only shot, but they were also beaten to death, crucified, burned alive, drowned, mutilated, starved, strangled, hanged, boiled alive, buried alive, drawn and quartered, and beheaded.” Adam Jones, a scholar who specializes in genocide, notes that after the 1959 Tibetan uprising the Chinese authorized struggle sessions against reactionaries, during which “communist cadres denounced, tortured, and frequently executed enemies of the people.” These sessions resulted in 92,000 deaths out of a total population of about 6 million. These deaths, Jones stressed, may not only be seen as a genocide, but they may also be seen as an “eliticide“, meaning “targeting the better educated and leadership oriented elements among the Tibetan population.” Patrick French, the former director of the Free Tibet Campaign in London, writes that the Free Tibet Campaign and other groups have claimed that a total of 1.2 million Tibetans were killed by the Chinese since 1950 but after examining archives in Dharamsala, he found “no evidence to support that figure.” French states that a reliable alternative number is unlikely to be known, but he estimates that as many as half a million Tibetans died “as a ‘direct result’ of the policies of the People’s Republic of China” by using historian Warren Smith’s estimate of 200,000 people who are missing from population statistics in the Tibet Autonomous Region and extending that rate to the borderland regions.
Main article: 1989 Tiananmen Square protests
Jean-Louis Margolin states that under Deng Xiaoping, at least 1,000 people were killed in Beijing and hundreds of people were also executed in the countryside after his government crushed demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. According to Louisa Lim in 2014, a group of victims’ relatives in China called the “Tiananmen Mothers” has confirmed the identities of more than 200 of those who were killed. Alex Bellamy writes that this “tragedy marks the last time in which an episode of mass killing in East Asia was terminated by the perpetrators themselves, judging that they had succeeded.”