Lin Zhao, undated photo
16 December 1932
|Died||29 April 1968
|Cause of death||Execution by firing squad|
|Alma mater||Peking University|
|Parents||Peng Guoxian 彭国彦
Xu Xianmin 许宪民
|Relatives||Xu Jinyuan 许金元 (uncle)|
Lin Zhao (Chinese: 林昭; December 16, 1932 – April 29, 1968) was born Peng Lingzhao (彭令昭) to a prominent family in Suzhou. By age 16, she had already joined an underground Communist cell and was writing articles criticizing the corruption of the Nationalist government under the pen name Lin Zhao. Three months before the Communists took power in mainland China, she ran away from home in order to attend a journalism school run by the Communists. During her tenure, she was assigned to work in a group to administer land reform in the countryside, where she willfully took an active role in the torture and violent deaths of landlords as justified by the principle of class struggle.
Lin later enrolled in the Chinese literature department at Peking University where she became an outspoken dissident during the Hundred Flowers Movement of 1957. During this time, intellectuals such as herself were encouraged to criticize the Communist Party of China, but were later punished for doing so. As punishment, Lin was ordered to perform menial tasks for the university which included killing mosquitoes as part of the Four Pests Campaign and cataloguing old newspapers for the reference library of the university's journalism department.
In October 1960 while on medical parole in Suzhou, Lin Zhao was arrested along with other dissidents for helping to publish an underground magazine that criticized the Communist Party in reaction to the devastation wrought on the Chinese people by the government during the Great Leap Forward. She was later sentenced to 20 years imprisonment as a political prisoner where she was repeatedly beaten and tortured. While in prison, she famously wrote hundreds of pages of critical commentary about Mao Zedong using a hairpin with her own blood as ink. In a report dated December 5, 1966, it was recommended that Lin be executed based on "serious crimes" which included, "1. Insanely attacking, cursing, and slandering our great Chinese Communist Party and our great leader Chairman Mao... 2. Regarding the proletarian dictatorship and socialist system with extreme hostility and hatred... 3. Publicly shouting reactionary slogans, disrupting prison order, instigating other prisoners to rebel, and broadcasting threats to take revenge on behalf of executed counter-revolutionary criminals... 4. Persistently maintaining a reactionary stand, refusing to admit her crimes, resisting discipline and education, and defying reform..." She was executed in 1968.
Lin Zhao's life was brought to light by documentary filmmaker Hu Jie, whose documentary In Search Of Lin Zhao's Soul won numerous awards. She is also featured in several chapters of Philip Pan's 2008 book, Out of Mao's Shadow.