When Zhang Hongbing was a young man during China’s Cultural Revolution, his loyalty to Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong knew no bounds. He even denounced his mother for speaking ill of the iconic leader and sent her to death.

Zhang, a 62-year-old retired lawyer, no longer toes the party line, at least regarding those 10 violent and chaotic years from 1966 to 1976, when Mao died.

As Monday’s 50th anniversary of the start of the revolution approaches, Zhang and other witnesses, victims and participants of that era want an open discussion about what occurred to make sure nothing like that happens again. But China’s current Communist leaders want to snuff out any memory of the embarrassing period.

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Image courtesy of  Xiao Xilan via USA Today