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13:42 Mar 30 2009

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English>>Tibet Online>>Society
Serfdom abolition great contribution to human civilization
13:19, March 30, 2009  

The abolishment of the feudal serfdom in Tibet is a great contribution to the progress of human civilization and human rights around the globe, said a Tibetologist here.

Liu Wei, who also once worked as a journalist in Tibet for more than 20 years, outlined his view in an interview with Xinhuanet recently.

"The abolition of serfdom in 1959 is a reform on Tibet's social system and a key component of China's New-Democratic Revolution," he said, "it follows the historical development and global trend."

Liu pointed out that "in terms of 'human rights,' a term hotly discussed in the Western countries, the most important meaning of abolishing serfdom lies in the fact that serfs have been granted four basic rights, namely right to live, to enjoy freedom, to vote and to be voted."

Chinese and foreign researchers understand that old Tibet under the feudal serfdom was a place even darker and more decadent than Medieval Europe. The serf-owners, accounting for five percent of the whole pupolation of Tibet, monopolized almost all the means of production, while serfs, accounting for 95 percent, had nothing at all.

Statistics show that in 1959 among the cultivated land of 3.36 million mu(560,000 acres) in Tibet, some 38 percent was occupied by the local government, 24.3 percent by nobles and 36.8 percent by monasteries.

Liu said, with the ownership of the land and monopoly of other means of production, the serf-owners ruthlessly exploited the serfs.

There were three major monasteries -- Gaindan, Sera, Tashilhunpo in old Tibet, Liu added. The three amassed a fortune that included 321 manors, 147,000 mu(24,500 acres) of land, 26 pastures, 110,000 heads of cattle and 40,000 serfs.

Feudal manor served as the basic economic organization for ownership, distribution and cultivation of the land in old Tibet.

There existed three major feudal manors: Pala, Khesum and Lagyari. The Pala Manor in Gyangze Prefecture belonged to the big noble family the Palas. As a senior official under the Dalai Lama, Pala owned 40 manors and pastures as well as 9, 000 mu (1,500 acres) of farmland. This family, with only 12 members, possessed 15,000 heads of cattle and 2,500 serfs, 100 of whom, Nangsans (household slaves).

The Khesum Manor was owned by another powerful noble -- Wangchen Gelek, who also had dozens of manors. It covered an area of 1,200 mu (240 acres), with 400 serfs and 100 Nangsans.

The former housekeeper of the Lagyari Manor, who is now in his 80s, admitted he was once awarded 50 serfs for dunning rents on the master's behalf.

Liu said, at the time of democratic reform in 1959, 2.8 million mu (461,285 acres) of land and large quantities of daily necessities were distributed to the former serfs of more than 800,000.

Under the policy of land redemption and confiscation during the democratic reform, some serf-owners got land and other means of production as well, Liu introduced. The land of those serf-owners who participated in the armed rebellion in March 1959 were confiscated, while those who did not but supported the 17-Article Agreement were allowed to redeem their land.

The practice to distribute land to serfs was warmly welcome by the Tibetans, Liu said, since then, the Tibetan people have lived a happy life and been on the way to prosperity.

Artists perform dance at a gala to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of Tibetan serfs in Beijing, capital of China, March 28, 2009. (Xinhua/Fan Rujun)

Tibetan people perform to mark the first Serfs Emancipation Day at Tianjin Square in Qamdo, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, March 28, 2009. (Xinhua/He Junchang)

Tibetan people in traditional dress celebrate the first Serfs Emancipation Day at home in Qamdo, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, March 28, 2009. (Xinhua/He Junchang)


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