1926 - The Bitter Sufferings of the Peasants in Kiangsu and Chekiang, and Their Movements of Resistance
THE BITTER SUFFERINGS OF THE PEASANTS IN KIANGSU AND CHEKIANG, AND THEIR MOVEMENT OF RESISTANCE
November 25, 1926
[Extracted from an article of the same title published in Hsiang-tao, no. 179, 25 November 1926. ]
If one takes the boat from Wuhsi, the first place at which one arrives is the market town of Kushan. It is situated between the three hsien of Chiangyin, Shangshu, and Wuhsi. In these three hsien there are many big land-lords who oppress the farmers very severely. Last autumn, a certain Kushan student who had studied in Japan, by the name of Chow Shui-p'ing, returned to this village. (Chou had first graduated from Wuhsi provincial Teachers' College). He could not bear the sight (of such oppression), and encouraged the tenant farmers to organize into a body called the 'Tenant Farmers' Cooperative Self-help Society'. Chou moved from village to village speaking with tears in his eyes of the sufferings of the peasants. A large number of Kushan peasants followed him, and those in the neighbouring areas of Chiangyin, Shangshu, and Wuhsi hsien were all inflamed. They rose like clouds and opposed the rich but heartless big landlords, and with one voice demanded the reduction of rent. But before the peasants had completely united themselves, the bad landlords had already united themselves and the gentry and landlords of the three hsien Chiangyin, Shangshu, and Wuhsi acted simultaneously. Letters and telegrams fell like snowflakes on Sun Ch'uan-fang; Sun Ch'uan-fang of course obeyed the order of the landlords. Last November, he dissolved the 'Tenant Farmers' Cooperative Self-help Society' and arrested Chou Shui-ping, who was executed in January of this year. It seemed that the movement for rent reduction had been suppressed for a time. But when Chou Shui-p'ing's coffin was returned to Kushan to be exhibited in his house, the farmers went up to the coffin daily in crowds and kowtowed before it, saying, 'Mr. Chou died for us, we will avenge his death.' This year there was a big drought, and the harvest was poor; the farmers again thought of rising up to demand rent reduction. This shows that they are not in the least afraid to die. They know that a united struggle to reduce the exploitation of the avaricious and cruel landlords is their only way out.
Tz'u Hsi is located in Chekiang, east of Ningpo. In recent months there occurred a great insurrection in the Shanpei area of this hsien. The peasants of this Shanpei area are violent by nature, and frequently indulge in armed combat. On top of this, in recent years the officials and police have been unreasonably oppressive and the bad landlords have stepped up their exploitation. So the accumulated exasperation of the peasants was already deep. By chance the climate this year was unstable, and as a result the rice and cotton crops failed, but the landlords refused to make any reduction whatever in their harsh rents. The peasants' insurrection against famine thereupon exploded. Once the farmers’ insurrection broke out, all the elements declasses joined them very courageously. In the morning of 13 September, there assembled more than 2,000 people who went to the police station to report the famine, and clashed with the police. They burned down the police station, and distributed the arms of the police among themselves. Then they turned to go to the houses of the village gentry landlords to 'eat up powerful families'. After eating them up, and out of anger at the evils of the village gentry landlords, they destroyed the landlords’ screens, paintings, and sculptured ancient doors and windows. They did this every day; they did not listen much to others' exhortation but let off their steam in this manner. The day after (each such outburst ), the landlord in question ran to the city to report, and soldiers and police came down to the village and turned every thing upside down, but the leaders of the peasants had already mostly escaped. There was widespread propaganda about 'Violation of the Law' and 'Crimes', the farmers became fearful, and thus the movement was suppressed. The reason for the failure of this movement is that the masses did not fully organize themselves, and did not have leadership, so that the movement barely got started and then failed.