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16:35 Jan 20 2009

Special ReportNetizen's VoiceMedia Voice
English>>Tibet Online
March 28, a turning point for Tibet
16:32, January 20, 2009  

March 28, 1959 mattered a great deal to Tibet as serfs celebrated Tibetan emancipation. It is a turning point that the region has ushered into a new society.

The democratic reform was carried out in the snow-covered plateau that day. The movement overthrew the feudal serf system and freed millions of serfs and slaves. From then on, they took their destiny in their own hands and became the masters of the country.

50 years later, Tibetan NPC decided that March 28 will be celebrated every year in Tibet as Serf’s Emancipation Day. It can help Tibetan remember the historic event of democratic reform in the region and also reveal the truth of “Tibet issue” from another angle.

Before 1959, Tibet had long been a feudal serf society that integrated religion with politics, in which monks and the nobles practiced dictatorship. Sir Charles Bell, probably the most influential British officer to serve in Tibet, wrote in his book “Portrait of the Dalai Lama: The Life and Times of the Great Thirteenth”: “When you come from Europe or America to Tibet, you are carried back several hundred years. You see a region still in the feudal age.”

Old Tibet was still under a feudal serf system that was crueler than that of Western Europe in the middle ages - 500 years after Europe had abandoned it. This was the root cause of poverty and backwardness and the obstacle for making civilized progress in Tibet.

Given the complexity of ethnic and religious issues in Tibet, the Agreement between the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on the Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet in May 1951 stipulated that the central authorities would not alter the existing political system in Tibet, and stated that the reform should be carried out by local government.

CPC Central Committee made endeavor for eight years for the cause of peaceful reform in Tibet, and millions of serfs also waited for eight years. However, some people from the upper ruling strata of Tibet staged an armed rebellion in 1959 in an attempt to separate Tibet from China, in order to preserve feudal serfdom. On March 28, 1959, the Central Government announced the dismissal of the original local government of Tibet and led the Tibetan people in quelling the rebellion, implemented the democratic reform, overthrew the feudal serfdom under theocracy and abolished all savage punishments.

From darkness to brightness, from poverty to wealth, from dictatorship to democracy, from seclusion to opening up, the democratic reform has fundamentally changed the lives of millions of serfs in Tibet, a turning point in Tibetan history. Serf owners in Tibet were composed of local officials, aristocrats and high-level monks. They made up five percent of the total Tibetan population but possessed all the farmland, pastures, forests, mountains, rivers and most of the livestock. Millions of serfs were their owners’ property and could be freely sold and bought. After New China was founded, the serfs shook off their chains and started a new life, with the average life expectancy being at 67 from the previous 35.5 in the 1950s.

Victor Hugo, the premier writer of the 19th century once said that activities to commemorate major events in history served as a torch, which could light up past and future. By reviewing Tibet’s past, Serf’s Emancipation Day will make people feel the earth-shaking changes that have taken place since the democratic reform in Tibet.

Millions of Tibetans have witnessed unprecedented changes in the past fifty years, the brilliant achievement of democratic reform that has deeply transformed Tibetan society. It was the dividing line between savagery and civilization, backwardness and progress.

By People's Daily Online

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