Serfs Emancipation Day
- From: lovechina@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 09:29:30 -0800 (PST)
Tibet proposes setting of "Serfs Emancipation Day"
Special Report: Focus on Tibet, 2009-01-16
LHASA, Tibet Jan. 16 (Xinhua) --Tibetan legislators proposed
Friday to establish a Serfs Emancipation Day that will be remembered
on March 28 every year to commemorate the emancipation of millions of
serfs in the region 50 years ago.
The motion for this submitted to the second annual session of the
ninth regional People's Congress, the regional legislature, will be
reviewed by about 400 lawmakers. Tubdain Cewang, vice chairman of the
Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress,
explained the bill to the session on Friday morning. The bill, which
will be reviewed on Saturday, is expected to be endorsed at the end of
the session, which runs from Jan. 14 to 19.
The serfs and slaves were freed 50 years ago after the central
government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his
supporters with assistance from some Western powers.
Tibet became part of China in the 13th century under the
governance of Yuan Dynasty. In 1951, after the founding of the
People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong's troops marched into Tibet
after the signing of a peaceful liberation agreement between the
central government and Tibetan local government.
In 1955, China set up a preparatory committee for the
establishment of Tibet Autonomous Region, while many local people were
proposing the reform of the thousand-year-old serfs system in Tibet.
However, on August 18, 1956, Mao Zedong wrote a letter to the 14th
Dalai Lama, saying that it was not the right time for Tibet to
undertake a reform program.
In another message to the religious leader, Mao said it was left
to the Dalai Lama to decide whether or not to start the reform process
after the six years had elapsed.
However, the Dalai Lama and some serf owners still launched the
armed rebellion, which was widely believed by Chinese historians not
to postpone the reform, but to continue forever the feudal serf
The People's Liberation Army quelled the rebellion and the Dalai
Lama fled to India where he established a "government in exile". Later
the democratic reform was introduced to end the feudal serfdom and
abolish the hierarchic social system characterized by theocracy, with
the Dalai Lama as the core of the leadership.
On March 28, 1959, the central government announced it would
dissolve the aristocratic local government of Tibet and replace it
with a preparatory committee for establishing the Tibet Autonomous
Great changes have taken place in politics, economy and culture in
Tibet, said Tubdain at Friday's session.
"Tibetan people have become masters of the new socialist Tibet
from serfs in the past -- fully enjoying all kinds of rights that the
country's Constitution and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy endow
"However, the Dalai Lama-led separatist group has never forgotten
the serf system, viciously lashing at the ethnic autonomy system,
ceaselessly masterminding separatist and sabotage activities with
every means possible to thwart the development and progress of the new
socialist Tibet and dreaming of restoring the cruel and laggard feudal
serf system all the time," said Tubdain.
To commemorate the emancipation of millions of serfs is conducive
to thoroughly revealing the vicious nature of the feudal serf system
and the ulterior political purpose of the 1959 armed rebellion by the
Dalai Lama group, said Tubdain.
Gama Dainba, a lawmaker from the region's Shannan area, said that
setting a special commemorative day was like a gift to his parents who
were once serfs. It also serves to remind youths today not to forget
The 46-year-old Gama said he had not experienced the miserable
serf life that his parents had, but his 83-year-old mother often told
him and other 11 sons and daughters stories of hunger, no shoes to
wear and fearing to raise their heads before nobles.
"My mother scrambled for zanba food thrown to the ground with dogs
of her owner when young and was bitten by the dogs," said Gama. "She
still has the scars."
"I think we should set a commemorative day for our parents and
their ancestors, who had endured too much misery," said Gama. "Many
youths today do not know the miseries, but they should not forget
Documents from the Tibetan Autonomous Region Archives Bureau
showed serf owners -- mostly officials, nobles and lamas -- who
accounted for 5 percent of the total population of the old Tibet
occupied all the farming land and pastures and most of the livestock.
Serfs, who accounted for more than 90 percent of the population in
old Tibet, were treated as private properties by their owners. They
had no personal freedom. Their owners could wantonly insult, punish,
buy and sell, give away as gifts, whip and even brutally kill them.
In 1733, the 7th Dalai Lama controlled 3,150 monasteries and
121,440 households. The serfs had to work in a painstaking way for the
monasteries despite lack of food and clothing.
Saixim Village, Doilungdeqen County, 50 km northwest of Lhasa, was
a manor of the 14th Dalai Lama's family before 1959. Till now, old
folks in the village can still recall that five people were beaten to
death and 11 wounded in the service of the Dalai Lama's family during
a 10-year period.
Migmar Dondrup, a 74-year-old Tibetan farmer from Xigaze
county,told Xinhua that he had been a serf for 11 years before the
serfdom was abolished in 1959. "I'd be very glad if a date were set to
mark the emancipation of Tibetan serfs," he said.
Before 1959, Dondrup and his wife were slaves of the Parlha Manor.
Dondrup was a servant of the manor's owner, and his wife was a maid of
the owner's mistress. The couple said they led a hungry and miserable
life at the manor.
Dondrup called the date of their liberation 50 years ago "the most
important day of my life. I was reborn," he claimed.
Dondrup's family of four generations now lives in a two-story
house, with a floor space of 400 square meters.
Pang Boyong, deputy secretary-general of the regional people's
congress standing committee, said the bill proposing to set the date
by the local legislature was aimed at "reminding all the Chinese
people, including Tibetans, of the landmark democratic reform
initiated 50 years ago."
If approved, it would help the whole Chinese nation, including
Tibetans, remember history, according to Legqog, director of the
Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress.
Legqog said "Serfs Emancipation Day" would strengthen Tibetans'
"Over the past five decades, Tibet's political, economic and
cultural sectors have witnessed great changes ... former serfs have
become masters of the new socialist Tibet," Legqog said. The 65-year
old Tibetan leader himself grew up in a serf family in Tibet.
He said the Dalai Lama and his followers had constantly organized
seditious activities and had tried "by all means to prevent Tibet's
development," aiming to resume feudal serfdom.
Zhou Wei, a China Tibetology Research Center researcher, said "the
democratic reform has emancipated Tibet's productive power. Since the
reform and opening up, Tibet has realized an all-round and rapid
Tibet has been recording a double-digit economic growth in the
past 16 years. In 2008, Tibet saw a 10.1 percent growth year-on-year
in gross domestic product to reach 39.2 billion yuan (about 5.7
billion U.S. dollars). Per capita income for farmers and herders was
3,170 yuan, up 13.7 percent from 2007. In 2006, railways to the
plateau region started service.
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