Trial over 1967 killing of doctor sparks netizen debate on Cultural Revolution

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 8:02am

A Zhejiang man in his 80s was tried at his home on Monday for allegedly killing a doctor in 1967 during the Cultural Revolution, the state-run China News Service reported on Tuesday.

The man, identified by his last name as Qiu, was accused of killing a doctor surnamed Hong, who was suspected of spying for a rival militia group.

Qiu told the mobile court in Ruian , Zhejiang, that he was ordered by members of a civilian militia group in 1967 to execute Hong, the news agency said in a short story.

Qiu strangled Hong with a piece of rope and chopped off his legs with a shovel before burying him, the report said.

Qiu was arrested in July last year after being on the run "for decades", the report added.

In an ironic turn of events, China News Service removed the story from its own website,, on Wednesday without giving any explanation. But the story had already been carried on many large news sites and Web portals including and and sparked heated discussion on weibo, China's Twitter-like social media service.

"What about those big names who started the Cultural Revolution?" said one internet user. "How come they never took any responsibility?"

"How about the thousands of other murderers?" wrote another. And one said: "The murders and those who died are all victims of the Cultural Revolution."

The "Great Cultural Revolution", which was started by Mao Zedong in 1966 and ended after his death a decade later, remains a sensitive topic.

After a brief period of official soul-searching and semi-open discussion about the wrongs done to millions, the Communist Party tries to avoid mentioning the tumultuous period, and keeps tight control on discussion of it in the press.

Armed conflicts broke out between different factions of Red Guards, fanatic youths inspired by Mao to "continue the revolution", soon after the mass movement started in 1966.

Many believe the government fears an open debate could be used to undermine its official history of a period.