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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11., No. 9. 28th July 1948

Student Tragedy-Facts Concerning The Yu Tse-San Incident

page 5

Student Tragedy-Facts Concerning The Yu Tse-San Incident

The following letter was received from the Chinese Union Association of Students, Shanghai early this year.

Occurring on 29th October, while he was imprisoned in the Hongchow Garrison Headquarters, the tragic death of Yu Tse-san, chairman of the Students' Autonomous Association of Chekiang University, attracted much attention. But owing to the severe news blockade, no detailed or reliable account of the facts could be obtained.

He was illegally arrested at about 2 a.m. on 26th October, together with three other students. The police authorities claimed that he "committed suicide" with two pieces of glass "in the fear of being condemned as a communist bandit." (Central News Agency). This doubtful report met with general incredulity, and there were rumours as to the true cause of his death. But it was not until a letter from a certain student at Chekiang University luckily found its way out under the eyes of numerous policemen surrounding the school campus, that the complete truth was revealed. This report is based on the said letter, as well as on the valuable information through the press that could not be entirely suppressed.

According to the official statement (released through Central News Agency) the four students were arrested in the early morning of October 26th with much evidence to prove them communists. Yu Tse-san was detained in the Garrison Headquarters to be questioned. On the afternoon of October 29th. in fear of condemnation, he cut his throat with two pieces of glass and died thereof.

On October 30th. following Yu's death, the president of Chekiang University issued a statement on this sad incident, a copy of which was sent to the Ta Kung Pao to be published:". . . The Univesity made repeated requests to transfer the arrested students to the custody of the court within 24 hours in accordance with the constitution. But the police again and again opposed this transfer because the questioning was not yet finished. It was at 9 p.m. on 29th October that the university learned of Yu's tragic death in the Garrison Headquarters. The president, the Academic Supervisor, the University Physician, and students' representatives went there at once. They saw Yu lying dead on his bed, with a wound on his neck. The Garrison Headquarters said that Yu killed himself with pieces of glass." (Ta Kung Pao. 3rd November).

"Suicide" Announced

Now we come to the students' own story of the incident. On learning of the arrests, they sent two representatives to go with the university authorities to see Commander Chu at Garrison Headquarters. Their demand to transfer the arrested to court within 24 hours was rejected. Nor was the Academic Supervisor admitted to see the four students.

So, the students decided to stage a three-day strike as a protest against these illegal arrests, but they deferred this action as the authorities promised to transfer the arrested students to court on 29th October.

On the evening of the [unclear: 29h] the students were waiting in suspense for the fulfilment of the promise when, after inquiring, the Academic Supervisor returned in tears and reported the "suicide."

An urgent general meeting was assembled in the morning of the 30th. The report in the South-east Daily, saying "Communist Yu Tse-san, fearing condemnation, committed suicide in gaol" angered the students. What evidence was there to condemn Yu as a communist? And the students had reason to believe that Yu did not commit suicide. Action was swiftly decided upon.

On the afternoon, two thousand students marched to the court prison where the surviving three had just been transferred. Only 20 representatives were admitted to see them. The rest marched off "in good order" (Sun Pao) to the Garrison Headquarters to see the body of their dead school-mate. En route, they encountered at every 50 yards two soldiers with bayonets and grenades. But they did see Yu's body after all.

On that day they began to strike, protesting the illegal arrest and demanding the public trial of the surviving three.


The Central News Agency has been profuse with such phrases as "criminal connection with communist bandits," "fear of condemnation" and "suicide." But Mr. Chu Ko-chen, the president of the university, whose "wise way of dealing with the student riot" the Central News Agency could not help praislag during an interview with a Ta Kung Pao reporter, said: "Whether Yu Tse-san committed suicide or was killed Is still a question. First, where did the pieces of glass come from? Even Yu's spectacles were taken away before he was imprisoned. Secondly, why allow him to commit suicide? They arrested him without informing the university. And, after the arrest, the university's repeated requests to transfer him to the court within 24 hours have got no result. Furthermore, the university was not notified when Yu's body underwent the medical examination. As to the question whether Yu Was a communist, it is very difficult to be positive . . ." (Ta Kung Pao, 6th November.)

Yu Tse-san killed himself, the Central News Agency stated, by cutting his own throat with two pieces of glass. Yu was said to have obtained the glass from the prison window. And in their endeavour to remove the suspicion of torture and murder, the authorities anonunced that "no other part of Yu's body shows any signs of wounds" and that there were "no signs of resistance. (Central News. 4th November.)

And Answers

Now, first as to the source of the glass. The Academic Supervisor of the university is positive that no window pane was broken when they first went to see Yus body. It is only after suspicion was aroused that they broke the window. Then Dr. Li Tien-chu of the university reported: ". . . the blood stain on the glass looks as if the glass was not stained when cutting the throat." (Ta Kung Pao. 3rd November.)

Again, by common sense, it is not probable that one should cut one's throat with Two pieces of glass, particularly when one of them was found Under Yu's bed after he died. (Ta Kung Pao.) Furthermore, according to the second examination of Yu's body, the wound on Yu's throat was 2½ cm. in breadth and depth. Hard job to cut one's throat so deep with nothing but two pieces of glass!

Finally, we come to the second examination of Yu's body, on 30th October, of which Dr. Chiang Ta-yee was the police physician and Dr. Li Tien-chu, together with many others, were eye-witnesses. The cut on the hand was too slight to show-that the hand had held so blunt a weapon as glass to cut 2½ cm. deep. There were also purplish stripes of bruises under the navel as well as on the ankles. Is it not evident that torture and murder had been the cause of Yu's death.

As for the evidence of the four being communists, the authorities mention a bank account of $2,000,000 for "activity funds," a "record of party meetings" and a "list of names of communists." But the students of Chekiang University claim that the account belongs to one of the four who owns a peach-orchard in Funghwa, the record was only a draft for the constitution of the Students' Autonomous Association, and the list contained only names of students.

Ever since the regime of Chang Kai-shek anyone who dares to think Nanking a "bad government" has been called a communist. Torture and slaughter are the government's treatment of such "communists." We can still recall the government's brutal attitude towards those who advocated armed resistance against Japanese invasion. Many were slaughtered and buried alive.

We also remember the tragic Qunming incident on December 1, 1945, when those who wanted peace and a coalition government, were killed by grenades. We have not forgotten the iron-rods, nail-clubs, and dum-dum bullets of May, when we opposed civil war and hunger. The illegal arrest of Sun Kai-shan of Shanghai's Student-Aid Committee, who has neither been transferred to court nor released. The Yu The-san incident, we must point out, is not an accident but an essential aspect of the Nanking regime.

The incident aroused great solidarity and anger among Chinese universities. The professors of Chekiang University staged an all-professor suspension of classes on 3rd November, and issued a manifesto which contained "three points of reproach towards the government" (Ta Kung Pao). At Peiping headed by Chin-hwa. Yen-chin and Peita, all the universities and colleges staged a joint strike on 6th November. At Shanghai, starting from Chiao-tung two scores of universities and colleges staged a protest strike on 11th November.

The strike of the "American-supported" (China Press) St. John's University was "joined by all the university employees and members of the faculty (China Press). There were also minor demonstrations at Wuhan and Nanking. As for Chekiang University itself, it is staging a record one-week strike.

The student demand the right to live and the freedom of living and speech.

—Chinese Union Association of Students.