The Cross and Suffering




"Black Flags", "Black Entries", Cancellation of "Welfare "

The life, labor and political study of inmates were all under mutual surveillance. Those who did well received a small red flag under their names on the blackboard. As for those who did not finish their assignments, or who grumbled or sneered, or made reactionary remarks, they were reported to the team leader. They were then given a black entry and a black flag under their names and were punished with "cancellation of welfare" the following day. Even though the so-called "welfare" meant just a bowl of gruel, the cancellation of such "welfare" was a very harsh punishment in those days of starvation. Besides, even one black flag and one black entry over a period of one month was regarded as reform failure, causing great mental stress. That was like the command Pharaoh gave to the taskmasters and officers: "You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. And you shall lay on them the quota of bricks which they made before. You shall not reduce it" (Ex. 5:6-8).


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