Chinese marshal's son apologises over Cultural Revolution

BEIJING (AFP) - The son of a legendary Communist military leader and politician in China has publicly apologised for persecuting people at his school during the Cultural Revolution, according to a blog.

Mr Chen Xiaolu offered his remorse to teachers, staff and students at his former school in Beijing for leading denunciations and sending people to labour camps.

"Today I want to use the Internet to express to them my sincere apology," he said in comments carried on Monday on a blog for alumni of the Beijing Number Eight Middle School, and published by some Chinese and Hong Kong media outlets on Wednesday.

Mr Chen, said to be 67, is a son of Chen Yi, who led troops during China's war against Japan and later during the country's civil war, won by Communist forces in 1949.

The elder Chen was given the prestigious rank of marshal and was later foreign minister, although he was also persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. He died in 1972.

The apology by the younger Chen, who was also in the People's Liberation Army, is the latest in a series of similar expressions of remorse by ageing Chinese who lived through the 1966-1976 cataclysm.

Mr Chen said that while there were moves by some in China to argue in favour of the Cultural Revolution, such "inhumane violations of human rights should not appear again in any form in China".

The Cultural Revolution was unleashed by Mao Zedong to reassert his power after famines caused by his disastrous Great Leap Forward policy.

"Red Guard" youths abused officials, intellectuals, neighbours and relatives by dragging them into "struggle sessions".

People were publicly humiliated - often forced to wear dunce caps and other marks of shame - with some driven to suicide by their ordeal.

No official figure has been issued, but one Western estimate claims half a million people died in 1967 alone.

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