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TIAN Hongsheng Safeguarding Human Rights and World Peace: China’s OutstandingSafeguarding Human Rights and World Peace: China’s Outstanding Contributions
September 18,2015   By:chinahumanrights.org

 TIAN Hongsheng

  Safeguarding Human Rights and World Peace: China’s Outstanding Contributions

The Jingxing Mining District of Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province has convenient transportation for its being located in the center of this region, the fifth pass of the “eight mountain passes of the Taihang Mountains”; it used to be a strategic position contended by military strategists due to its location in the road hub of the sixth stronghold of the “Nine Strongholds in China”; it is also famous for being rich in high-quality coking coal for coke making.

During the eight years when the Japanese army occupied the Jingxing Mining District, the working conditions in the underground coal mines were extremely harsh, and the labor intensity was beyond the imagination of today’s people. Workers had to work for 15-16 hours each day underground, and some stayed underground for nearly one month in a row, living and eating in the mine. They were called “black mine workers” or “mine beggars”. They had to labor back and forth for several dozen times in each shift in the underground roadways of several hundred meters deep. Sometimes they were beat and abused by Japanese foremen and feudal bosses. Heavy coal baskets bent miners’ backs. To grab coal resources, Japanese invaders used a large number of child laborers. Some children were twelve or thirteen years old, and some were only eight or nine years old. They worked very hard underground and their wages were less than a half of adult workers. A ballad was spread in the mining area then, “Teenagers worked in underground mines, on an empty stomach and suffering beating; small and weak, they have to do heavy work, stooping and crawling on the ground; child laborers are all skins and bones, to fatten bosses and foremen.”

During the eight years when the Japanese army occupied the Jingxing Mining District, accidents such as roof collapse, water inflow, and gas explosion occurred often underground. For example, at about 2 o’clock on the afternoon of March 22, 1940, a gas explosion occurred in Xinjing of Jingxing Mine. Coal dust explosion was caused instantly, and dense smoke and big fire rapidly spread along the roadways. The temperature reached as high as 2000 C, the explosion impact speed was over 600 m/s, and the impact force amounted to 7.5 kg/cm . Not only were the underground coal trucks overthrown, but also the iron plates welded on the derricks on the ground were lifted. The dense smoke and big fire shot into the sky. According to statistics, there were over 1000 miners underground. But the Japanese army cared nothing about their life, and ordered the closure of the northwest mining roadway of the fifth section of the new mine, so that many miners struggling to get out were blocked in the roadways to die. This accident killed 357 people, and injured over 440 people. Even those surviving miners were so scarred that it was horrifying to have a look at them.

In 1944, when No. 225 Contractor’s Team was mining in the second section of the Zhengfeng Mine, water ran into the mine. At this critical moment, Japanese soldiers held the mouth of the mine to block miners from going out, but gave priority to mules in rescue, watching several miners drowning in water.

During the eight years when the Japanese army occupied the Jingxing Mining District, miners often had to work at the risk of losing their life. They were forced to enter a goaf: the top of the goaf was six to ten meters high, without supports or girders. Coal sheets kept falling, and miners had nothing on to protect themselves. The roof might fall at any time, and miners were in mortal danger at any moment.

During the eight years when the Japanese army occupied the Jingxing Mining District, the Japanese army instigated traitors to seize a great number of laborers to mine underground in the Jingxing Mining District by recruiting, cheating or press-gang from Hengshui, Xingtai, Handan and even some places of Henan and Shanxi. The Japanese army organized these laborers into a “team for increasing production to serve the country”, and forced them to work extremely hard. They were concentrated in a laborers’ shed. When cocks crowed for the first time in the morning, they were forced to get up and go underground to work in the mine until it was dark at night. To prevent laborers from escaping, each of them was marked by a furrow in the middle of their hair made by clippers. According to the memory of a laborers who managed to escape then: in the spring of 1942, foremen of the Hutou River colluded with traitors to cheat 97 river laborers and sell them to the Japanese army. They were jailed in No. 3 laborers’ building. Several months later, when he escaped, only 6 of 97 men still survived. Each day, some people were caught and jailed in the No. 3 laborers’ building. Each day, some miners died and were thrown into the Nanda Ditch, the so-called “Mass Grave”.

The Nanda Ditch is a big ditch running from east to west, about 3 meters deep and 25 meters wide. In the old days, Jingxing miners were all thrown into the Nanda Ditch after they died, to be gnawed by wolves and dogs. In winter, corpses were frozen in the wild; in summer, the ditch stunk. People called it a “Mass Grave”. Since the Japanese army occupied the mine, numerous miners had been persecuted to death and thrown into the “Mass Grave”. The more cruel cases were that miners who had not breathed their last were also thrown into the “Mass Grave”.

In addition, the Japanese army built a “labor research institute” in the Jingxing Mining District. The courtyard of the “labor research institute” whose building number was No. 20 was generally called by the people in the mine district as No. 20 “Palace of Hell”. In the courtyard, there was an interrogation room, a punishment room, a dungeon, a water dungeon, a wood dungeon and a water cage. The court was ghastly and terrifying, with all kinds of extremely cruel punishments and instruments of torture. A saying got about then, “once in the Palace of Hell, either die or be disabled”. In the days when the Japanese army occupied the mining district, it was not only a slaughter house for miners and people of the mine district, but also a jail for abusing communists and patriots fighting against the Japanese invaders, as well as a concentration camp for interrogating laborers and capturing and forcing them to labor in Japan.

During the eight years when the Japanese army occupied the Jingxing Mining District, the mining district was a miserable place. Today, it is telling people of the world its heartbreaking past events and the monstrous crimes committed by Japanese warlords against people in the mining district. In the age of untold misery, Japanese invaders practiced the policy of grabbing coal resources at the expense of Chinese people’s lives. They savagely devastated and exploited miners, brutally suppressed revolutionaries, exercised crazy Fascist rule in the mining district, and plundered mineral resources, turning the rich and beautiful Jingxing Mining District into a hell in the human world. In the mine district occupied by the Japanese army, Chinese people absolutely had no human rights to speak of.

However, in this same place, in Xinjing of the Jingxing Mining District, on August 20, 1940, five months after the Xinjing Massacre, the Eighth Route Army launched the Great Campaign with 100 Regiments that impressed the whole world. While soldiers of our Eighth Route Army bravely battled with the Japanese army, a moving story of “the General Rescuing Orphans” took place. In the words of the rescued person, Ms. Mihoko, “I was born on July 10, 1936 in China and lived there until I was four. Now I live in Miyakonoj of Japan.

During the historic Great Campaign with 100 Regiments breaking out at midnight of August 20, 1940, the Eighth Route Army soldiers rescued my sister and me from the battle here at the Xinjing Station. My parents died in the battle then. My sister and I were kindly cared and brought up by Chinese soldiers and people. My sister was still a baby and was injured. She was carefully treated but died unfortunately (note: she died after she was sent to the Japanese army). I was safely returned to Japan in the noble humanitarian spirit of General Nie Rongzen and with the protection of Chinese army and people.

I visited this place again in 2002 to offer my heartfelt gratitude. At the same time, I also pray that China and Japan will never fight and the world peace will be maintained.”

The moving story of “the General Rescuing Orphans” took place in the Jingxing Mining District, a place where Chinese people had no human rights at all. The story epitomized the excellent contributions of Chinese army and people in safeguarding human rights. Such moving stories as “the General Rescuing Orphans” were not rare cases in the battlefields during the war of resistance against Japanese invasion or the battles of the Great Campaign with 100 Regiments.

There was another moving story during the Great Campaign with 100 Regiments in the mine district. There was a Japanese foreman named Tetsuharu Miyamoto working in Xinjing of the Jingxing Mining District. It happened that he was drunken and slept in a workshop when our army attacked this place. He was captured. Our army treated the captive well and in the humanitarian spirit let him share his due equal right. He was so moved that he asked for permission to stay in the the Shanxi-Chahaer-Hebei border region. He participated in the united front against Japanese invasion and became a section chief of the Shanxi-Chahaer-Hebei Anti-War Alliance. This story was reported in the inaugural issue of the Illustrated Shanxi-Chahaer-Hebei News.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese invasion, and also the 70th anniversary of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War. A retrospective view of history can find that Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese invasion opened up the oriental main battlefield for the World Anti-Fascist War. During the war of resistance against Japanese invasion, the Communist Party of China, with its efforts in advocating and practicing the protection of human rights, won the support of the people, and led the Chinese people to finally realize national liberation and win revolutionary victory.

Nowadays, in an age of globalization, how to communicate for and expand international consensus through constructive dialogues has become one of the main issues for discussion in the international community. To reflect on human rights not only within the framework of oriental civilization but also the frameworks of other civilizations so as to develop a “civilized and compatible outlook on human rights” is an inevitable approach to alleviate and gradually resolve conflicts.

(The author is Director of the Memorial of Mass Graves in Jingxing Mining District.)