Fascinating piece in GT on Lin Zhao, poet and dissident, shortly after the 44th anniversary of her execution in 1968.
She was originally tagged as a rightist during the campaign of that name in 1957. In 1959, she was sentenced to eight years in jail for publishing two articles in an underground dissident publication. She continued to produce articles and poetry in prison using the medium of her own blood on paper given her to produce self criticisms. That got her sentence increased to twenty years. When that didn’t stop her writing, she was shot:
Lin was executed on April 29, 1968 in Shanghai at the age of 36. An officer informed her mother of the execution and collected the fee for the bullet.
The verdict was reversed in 1980 at a time when a lot of Cultural Revolution cases were reassessed. And it’s the Cult Revolt connection that probably made it an auspicious time to publish the article, since it can be read as a veiled criticism of Bo Xilai and his doings in Chongqing.
And yet Lin’s case goes much deeper than the Cultural Revolution, during which time she was already in jail and which ended eight years after her death. Her original criticism of the Party came during the hundred flowers period. Then she fell victim to the Ant-Rightist campaign, which is still extremely sensitive, not least because of the fact that it was organized by Deng Xiaoping. Finally, she went to jail after writing in support of Peng Dehuai’s critique of Mao during the Great Leap Forward, which I believe is still officially ‘the three years of natural disasters.’
So; first you’re in a situation where it becomes necessary to loosen control over discussion of the Cultural Revolution as part of the campaign against Bo. And that in turn allows the publication of a story that encompasses all of the signal catastrophes of Communist Party rule in state-owned media. (Naturally, she's already a cult hero among dissidents) I wonder how long that will be allowed to continue.
UPDATE: Relatedly, check this out. Looks like the Great Leap Forward is way off the official reservation.