05/19/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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China does not commemorate the Cultural Revolution but still applies its methods

A woman caught shoplifting in a shopping centre is shaved, has "I am a thief" painted on her face, and is forced to stand at the store's main entrance with a sign around her neck.

Jinjiang (AsiaNews) – A few days past the overlooked anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, a current news event shows that the chaotic period is still an open wound that today's China is unable to heal.

Yesterday morning, two days after the 40th anniversary of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution launched by Mao Zedong, a woman tried to shoplift a pair of pants at a shopping centre in Jinjiang, in the southern province of Fujian. Caught by security agents, she was shaved and had "I am a thief" painted on her face (see photo). She was then tied up outside the store's main entrance, a sign with abusive language hanging around her neck, and forced to stand for an hour as customers walked by. The security detail kept her away from her little child until she was led away by police.

These methods are a throwback to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when millions of people were humiliated, persecuted, killed on all sorts of charges.

The Communist Party brooked no discussion in order to commemorate the event's anniversary out of concern that it would open "old wounds".

What it fears the most is that people might start demanding justice for the pain they suffered and expect compensation from party and state.

According to an expert of that period of history, at least three million people died during those ten chaotic years whilst another 200 million were victimised one way or another.

In those days of domestic strife, many properties were destroyed or confiscated.

For many Chinese scholars the government should compensate victims and return properties seized illegally.

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