In 1955 the Party and the government allowed us to hold meetings in this village to study and discuss land reform. The poor and landless peasants went to the meeting, talked about their miserable situations and denounced the landlords. The peasant described in detail the various ways the landlords exploited them. After these study sessions in which the exploitative landlords and local despots were denounced, we were able to categorize the landlords.
One group of landlords, known as the despotic ones, both exploited and abused the peasants physically. These landlords made their tenants and sharecroppers take all the yields of the land to them after the harvests. If the peasants failed to do so, they would be roughed up. In any case, after we had put the landlords in different categories with the help of cadres from the central government, we would bring these landlords before a people's court which was set up in the village.
Those found guilty of actual crimes against the people would then be sent to jail. Those found guilty of exploitation only would then have their property, which was composed of cattle, land and houses, either confiscated or subjected to forced sale to the village. This land which had been confiscated or purchased from the landlords would then be parceled out to the landless.
My family, for example, was able to get about two acres of paddy fields and a quarter of a cow, shared by several families. We had been a poor peasant family and previously had only about a quarter of an acre of land. Some families were also able to receive rice, copper pots and stone mills from the landlords' estates. Those landlords whose property was confiscated were sent to other houses in the village, and the houses of these landlords were partitioned out to poor and homeless peasants.