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The Tibetan ethnic minority (10)


10:59, August 08, 2011

In the Tibetan areas of Southwest China, peaceful reforms were introduced between 1955 and 1957 in the farming areas. Feudal land ownership and all feudal privileges were abolished after consultation between the laboring people and members of the upper strata. Usury was also abolished and slaves were freed and given jobs. The arms and weapons of manorial lords were confiscated. The government bought out the surplus houses, farm implements, livestock and grain of the landlords and serf owners.

It was clearly laid down in the agreement on the peaceful liberation of Tibet that democratic reforms would be carried out to satisfy the common desire of the peasants, herdsmen and slaves. But, in light of the special circumstances in Tibet, the central government declared that democratic reforms would not be introduced before 1962. However, the reactionary manorial lords, including monks and aristocrats, tried in every way to oppose the reforms.

In March 1959, the former Tibetan local government and the reactionary clique in the upper strata tore up the 17-article agreement under the pretext of "safeguarding national interests" and "defending religion" and staged an armed rebellion in Lhasa. They instigated rebel forces in different places to attack Communist Party and government offices and kill people, while abducting the Dalai Lama and compelling people to flee the country.

The State Council, acting upon the request of the Tibetan people and patriots in the upper strata, disbanded the Tibet local government (Kasha) and empowered the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region to exercise the functions and powers of the local government. With the active support of the Tibetan laboring people and patriots of all strata, the People's Liberation Army soon put down the rebellion.

The Preparatory Committee began carrying out democratic reforms while fighting the rebels. In the farming areas, a campaign was launched against rebellion, unpaid corvee service and slavery and for the reduction of rent and interest. In the pastoral areas, a similar campaign against the three evils was coupled with the implementation of the policy of mutual benefit to herdsmen and herd owners. All the means of production belonging to those serf owners and their agents who participated in the rebellion were confiscated, and the serfs who rented land from them were entitled to keep all their harvests for that particular year. All the debts laboring people owed to them were abolished. The means of production belonging to those serf owners and their agents who did not participate in the rebellion was not confiscated but bought over by the state. Rent for their land was reduced and all old debts owed by serfs were abolished. In the monasteries, the feudal system of exploitation and oppression was abolished and democratic management was instituted.

Land and other means of production including animals, farm implements and houses confiscated or bought by the state were redistributed fairly and reasonably among the poor serfs, serf owners and their agents, with priority given to the first group. In livestock breeding areas, while the animals owned by manorial lords and herd owners who participated in the rebellion were confiscated and distributed among the herdsmen, no struggle was waged against those who did not participate, their stock was not redistributed, and no class differentiation was made. Instead, the policy of mutual benefit to both herd owners and herdsmen was implemented.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party, the million serfs overthrew the cruel system of feudal serfdom and abolished the regulations and contracts that had condemned them to exploitation and oppression for generations. They received land, domestic animals, farm implements and houses and were emancipated politically.

In September 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was officially established. The Tibetans have since embarked on a road of socialist transformation, cautiously but steadily.

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