05/18/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Victims of the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai demand compensation for the violence they suffered

The small protest breaks the silence imposed by the government. Victims also demand the return of properties illegally seized by the government.

Shanghai (AsiaNews) – A group of Shanghai residents dared break the silence imposed by the authorities on the 40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution. About 150 demonstrators yesterday protested over their forced relocation in the 1960s and the treatment they received on their return by gathering outside a petitions office where citizens can lodge complaints with the government, many carrying signs reading 'There's nothing wrong with petitioning'.

Most of them were shipped to Xinjiang as part of a mass political campaign in which young urban residents were "sent down" to the countryside in the 1960s.

The group has regularly protested over what members say are inadequate medical and pension benefits given to them after their return to Shanghai.

"They forced us to go there and now we want to be repaid for what was taken," a middle-aged woman said. "We all lost so much."

Millions were killed or persecuted during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), but the 40th anniversary passed quietly across the mainland because the Communist Party has issued a blanket ban on raising the subject fearing the consequences of opening old wounds.

Top of list of its fears is concern that victims might call for justice and demand compensation from the government and the party.

Some scholars who have studied those chaotic ten years estimate that some 3 million people died and another 200 million were marked by its violence.

Many properties were also destroyed or confiscated during that period of internal turmoil.

Chinese scholars have called on the government to compensate the victims of the violence and return properties seized illegally.

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