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10:50 Feb 21 2010

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Facts speak louder than words (3)
10:49, February 21, 2010  

II. The Dalai Lama group's description of old Tibet totally ignores historical fact.

The Dalai Lama group's glorification of old Tibet's social conditions in their article flies in the face of truth for the following reasons:

-- Describing the severe punishment and harsh laws based on old Tibet's strict hierarchy as an "advanced" and "civilized" rule of law.

In order to glorify the old Tibet legal system, the Dalai Lama group claims in the article that the "legal system, and the rule-of-law (in the old Tibet), became more advanced over the centuries," and that the essence of old Tibet's laws were that "the rulers should act as parents to their subjects," which was reflected in the "Thirteen Guidelines of Procedure and Punishment," and other codes of laws issued by the old Tibet's rulers. "On the whole the system worked equally well for rich and poor (in the old Tibet)," they said.

However, these codes of laws, which were practiced in old Tibet for centuries, divided people into different social ranks. According to the rank, the value of the lives of the higher ranked people, such as princes and living Buddhas, was equal to their body weight in gold.

For the lower ranked, such as women, butchers, hunters and craftsmen, the value of their lives was equal to a straw rope. Courts and prisons were set up by the local governments of old Tibet, as well as by big monasteries. Religious and secular landlords were entitled to set up their own private jails. Punishment was extremely savage and cruel at the time, and included the gouging out of eyes, the chopping off of hands or legs, the pulling out of tendons, skinning and drowning. U.S. scholar Tom Grunfeld once quoted a Briton who lived for two decades in old Tibet as saying that she had witnessed countless eyes gouging and mutilations, while another in the late 1940s reported that "all over Tibet I have seen men who had been deprived of an arm or a leg for theft."

-- Describing the extremely backward and poverty-stricken feudal serfdom society as a "self-sufficient" one.

The Dalai Lama group claimed in the article that the old Tibet was an "economically self-sufficient" society. "A very small percentage of the population - mostly in Central Tibet - were tenants. They held their lands on the estates of aristocrats and monasteries, and paid rent to the estate-holders in kind or in physical labor," the Dalai group wrote in the article, suggesting that those tenants were "relatively wealthy and were sometimes even in the position of loaning money or grain to the estate."

However, the fact was that all the arable land, pastures, forests, mountains, rivers and beaches, and most of the livestock in old Tibet were owned by government officials, aristocrats, and high-ranking monks, as well as their representatives. These people made up only five percent of old Tibet's population. Meanwhile, tenants, who had no means of production and personal freedom and survived by working on rented land, made up about 90 percent of the population. Another five percent of the population had been slaves for generations, and were regarded as "tools that speak."

According to statistics from the 17th century during China's Qing Dynasty, Tibet had about 200,000 hectares of arable land. About 30.9 percent of the land was possessed by the local feudal government, 29.6 percent owned by aristocrats, and 39.5 percent by monasteries and high-ranking monks. The dominance of the means of production by the above three classes in old Tibet did not change ever since that time.

In his book, "Tibet Past and Present," Sir Charles Bell wrote that children were sometimes stolen from parents to become slaves in the old Tibet. Parents who were too poor to support their children would also sell them in exchange for sho-ring, or "price of mother's milk," to other people, who would bring up the children, keep them, or sell them again as slaves, he said. He also wrote in the book "Portrait of a Dalai Lama: the Life and Times of the Great Thirteenth" that the spread of diseases "caused the population, so sorely needed, to grow less and less. The huge number of monks, who are celibate, leads to the same result. Pneumonia, goiter, influenza and smallpox are also prevalent, the last being greatly dreaded... Children have to rough it in food and other ways, and many die young."

The Dalai Lama group said in the article that "throughout her history Tibet never experienced famine and the number of beggars could be counted with your fingers." In fact, due to its low levels of abilities to resist natural disasters, and the corrupted reign of the feudal serfdom under theocracy, the old Tibet was hit by various levels of snow and frost disasters as well as wars and plagues almost every year. Aside from Buddhist prayers, there was no effective way to deal with those natural and man-made disasters, which often led to famine, mass deaths of people and livestock, widespread disease, and the rampant presence of beggars. Flocks of beggars, including the old, women and children, could be seen in Lhasa, Xigaze, Chamdo, and Nagqu in old Tibet. According to statistics, of the 37,000 people living in Lhasa before the peaceful liberation of Tibet, about 5,000 were beggars.

-- Glorifying monasteries under the theocracy in old Tibet as model of traditional moral life.

The Dalai Lama group claimed in the article that "the role of monasteries as highly disciplined centers of Tibetan education and intellectual hubs was central to the traditional Tibetan way of life." But in fact, before the Democratic Reform of Tibet, monasteries occupied about 1.21 million ke of farmland (15 ke equal to 1 hectare) and possessed large numbers of livestock and pastures.

The three monasteries of Drepung, Sera and Gandan housed over 10,000 monks, with a possession of 321 estates, up to 10,000 ke of farmland, 450 pastures, 110,000 livestock, and more than 60,000 serfs. Monasteries were also the biggest usurers in old Tibet.

According to the book "Tibetan Interviews," by U.S. journalist Anna Louise Strong, one fourth of Drepung monastery's total income came from usury lending, with an interest rate much higher than the apparent 20 percent.

Strong said that when herdsmen could not afford to pay back the loans, they would enter serfdom for 25 years, of which only a few could survive hard living conditions.

The late 10th Panchen Lama once said in April 1988, when interviewed by the National Unity magazine, that in old Tibet monks and landlords had prisons and private jails: "The punishment was extremely savage and cruel at that time, including the gouging out of eyes, the chopping off of hands or legs, the pulling out the tendons and drowning. Gandan, one of the biggest monasteries in Tibet, had lots of torture instruments such as handcuffs, fetters and sticks," he said.

In conclusion, the fact that old Tibet was reigned by the theocratic feudal serfdom is undeniable. The reason why the Dalai Lama group try so hard to defend the social system of old Tibet is that they have always stood for the backward theocratic feudal serfdom, representing the interests of feudal serf-owners. They staged an armed separatist rebellion in 1959 to try to save the system. And they have never given up their dream of restoring serfdom rule in Tibet since they fled abroad.

Nowadays, the dark rule of the theocratic feudal serfdom in old Tibet has been examined by more and more people, and thus the Dalai Lama group have to make up all kinds of lies to cover the truth and defraud the public.

Source: Xinhua

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