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11:18 Mar 29 2009

Special ReportNetizen's VoiceMedia Voice
English>>China>>China Politics
On Serfs Emancipation Day, celebration, recollection, and wishes from across China (2)
11:18, March 29, 2009  

REMEMBERING THE PAST

As usual, foreign "critics" jumped up before the Serfs Emancipation Day, saying China exaggerated the cruelty of traditional Tibetan life to disguise a power grab, and that "serfdom" is too loaded to describe the Tibetan system.

But 73-year-old Baya in Qamdo, who was born to be a Tralpa, or a kind of serf whose life was better among all, said she would never return to the old society.

"I began to graze cattle when I was nine years old," she said. "There were many wolves in the pasturing area, and the aristocrats always asked us to deliver messages in midnight."

"We were afraid of the ghost, and I once witnessed a horde of wolves attack a lama..." she was apparently still in fear.

What they wore then was goat's skin, dried under the sun, because they didn't have cloth. They didn't have shoes.

"If the feet bled, we just apply the oil of the goat to the wounds," she said.

Dinner was potherb soup. "We didn't have Tsampa (food made of barley floor) to eat, let alone rice and wheat."

Baya said her first taste of sugar was after the People's Liberation Army (PLA) entered Tibet. The sugar was brought to there from Yunnan Province.

Zhao Qingui, a 73-year-old Tibetan veteran soldier, joined the PLA in 1950.

"At that time, only the aristocrats had tooth paste, tooth brush, biscuit, wool and fruits. The majority of people, or the serfs, could only wish not to be starved," he said.

Sun Huanxun, a PLA veteran who went to Tibet also in 1950 and stayed there, recalled what he saw in Lhasa before the democratic reform.

"Serfs wailed and begged from passers-by, some of whom had their legs chopped by the landlords, some have their eyes gouged out and some without hands," he said.

In contrast, the landlords were in luxurious dress, some riding on the backs of their slaves. "In their houses there hung whips, knives and shackles," he added.

Qi Jiguang, a historian from the Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, recited the sentences he read from slave contracts: "I would be your slave so long as the snow-capped mountain didn't collapse, the water from rivers didn't dry up."

The Khesum village in Shannan Prefecture was hailed as the first village to implement the democratic reform. Before the Serfs Emancipation Day, residents in the village wrote an open letter:

"We could never forget the old adage: there are three knives over the heads of serfs--heavy labor, heavy rent, and high interest; there are three paths before their eyes--flee from famine, become slave, or go begging."

"We would never return to the dark, backward, and cruel fuedal serfdom society. We would cherish the life now like cherishing our own eyes," it reads.

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http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90785/6624770.pdf