Graduates’ Red Guard Photos Cast Doubt on What They Learnedtags: Cultural Revolution, Red Guard, Northeast Agricultural University
The photographs show a young man, held down in a bowing position by what appear to be five Red Guards, the youthful fanatics who terrorized China in the name of Chairman Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution. A conical hat sits on his head, a leather belt chokes his throat, and a sign denouncing him as a traitor hangs from his neck with a nylon cord. But the young man is barely suppressing a grin, and the tableau was staged as part of a university graduation celebration.
The photos, taken last week at Northeast Agricultural University in the northeastern city of Harbin, have gone viral on Chinese websites and drawn considerable comment — about the decade-long political convulsions of the Cultural Revolution, about the ruling Communist Party’s suppression of public discussion of the less savory episodes in its history, and about the consequences for a younger generation that has grown up with little knowledge of its elders’ sufferings.
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