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China says Tibetans' fate changed profoundly since Democratic Reform in 1959
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15:58, March 02, 2009

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The process of Tibet's Democratic Reform led by the Communist Party of China since 1959 has "profoundly changed the fate of the Tibetan people," according to a white paper released by the State Council's Information Office Monday.

The paper, titled "Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet" tells how the Chinese government liberated a million Tibetan serfs and slaves from the feudal serfdom system of oppression and exploitation. China's influence made Tibetans masters of their own destiny through measures including land reform and theocracy abolishment.

"Carrying out democratic reform and abolishing the feudal serfdom of theocracy was an inevitable requirement for social progress. It was a major task of the people's democratic revolution led by the Communist Party of China, and was the only solution for social development in Tibet," according to the paper.

The peaceful liberation of Tibet on May 23, 1951, when the "17-Article Agreement" was signed in Beijing, "enabled Tibet to shake off the trammels imposed by imperialist aggressors, brought to an end to the long-term isolation of Tibet and stagnancy of its social development," it said.

The paper listed some achievements made during the democratic reform:

Abolishing the oppression and exploitation of feudal serfdom system, liberating a million serfs and slaves

After the quelling of the armed rebellion in 1959, the central government immediately dissolved the Kasha regime and its armed forces, courts and prisons, which had oppressed the Tibetans for hundreds of years.

The central government also kicked off campaigns in rural, pastoral areas and monasteries aimed to abolish rebellion, corvee labor and slavery, cut land rent and loan interests and cancel feudal privileges.

A visitor looks at a pricture at an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the Democratic Reform in Tibet Autonomous Region in Beijing, Feb. 25, 2009. The exhibition opened on Feb. 24 and runs until April 10. (Xinhuanet Photo)

After the democratic reform, lives and personal freedom were protected and safeguarded by the Chinese Constitution and law.

"They no longer suffer from the serf-owners' political oppression, forced labor and inhuman treatment, as well as heavy corvee taxes and usurious exploitation." according to the paper.

Implementing land reform, abolishing the feudal land ownership, making serfs and slaves masters of the land

In September 1959, the Preparatory Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region passed the "Decision on Abolishing Feudal Land Ownership System and Implementing Farmers' Land Ownership."

Afterward, farmland and other means of production originally occupied by serf-owners involved in the armed rebellion were confiscated and distributed to landless serfs and slaves. The land and other means of production of serf-owners who had not participated in the rebellion were redeemed by the state and then distributed to the serfs and slaves.

The central government then spent 45 million yuan on the redemption of 900,000 mu (60,000 ha) of land and more than 820,000heads of livestock from more than 1,300 households of serf-owners and agents who had not participated in the rebellion, according to statistics in the paper.

Visitors watch a documentary showing the past and present of Tibet at an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the Democratic Reform in Tibet Autonomous Region in Beijing, Feb. 25, 2009. (Xinhuanet Photo)

More than 2.8 million mu of land was confiscated or redeemed from serf-owners, and was distributed to 800,000 former serfs or slaves of 200,000 households. Each of the former serfs and slaves received about 3.5 mu of land.

When the land reform was completed in 1960, the total grain output for Tibet was 12.6 percent higher than that in 1959 and 17.5 percent higher than in 1958, the year before the land reform. The total number of livestock was 10 percent more than that in 1959.

During the democratic reform, Tibet's first supply and marketing cooperative, first rural credit cooperative, first private primary school, first night school, first literacy class, first film projection team and first modern medical organization were established.

In 1960, Ngachen Hydroelectric Station was completed and put into use, bringing electric lighting for the first time to the citizens of Lhasa.

Roads built in Tibet from 1959 and 1969 totaled 12,500 km, with a coverage of more than 90 percent of the counties in the region, according to the paper.

Abolishing theocracy, separating religion from state, and protecting religious freedom

After the Democratic Reform was carried out in Tibet, citizens' freedom of religious belief, and patriotic and law-abiding monasteries were protected by the law.

A stone cap that was used to gouge eyes of serfs in a Lhasa prison in old Tibet is on display at an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the Democratic Reform in Tibet Autonomous Region in Beijing, Feb. 25, 2009. (Xinhuanet Photo)

Citizens have the freedom to become a monk or nun and monks and nuns can choose to live a secular life. Regular religious activities, as well as historical monasteries and cultural relics, were all protected.

The government adopted a policy of "political unity, freedom of religious belief and separation of politics and religion" to ensure that all religious beliefs were politically equal.

The policy abolished monasteries' feudal privileges in economy and politics, repealed monasteries' feudal occupation and exploitation, and personal slavery, as well as feudal management and hierarchy inside the monasteries.

Public funds and properties inside the monasteries were managed democratically, serving as production funds and for supporting monks and nuns as well as regular religious activities.

The policy also allowed the monasteries' management committees to uniformly distribute land to monks and nuns in accordance with their labor ability, and managed production.

When the income of a monastery was unable to cover its regular expenses, the government would grant a subsidy, according to the paper.

Establishing the people's democratic state power, ensuring the people enjoy rights as their own masters

A boy watches a simulated scenario featuring serfs burning feudal documents produced in old Tibet after the Democratic Reform at an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the Democratic Reform in Tibet Autonomous Region in Beijing, Feb. 25, 2009. (Xinhuanet Photo)

After the abolishment of the system of feudal serfdom, the emancipated people of various ethnic groups in Tibet established democratic organs of state power.

By the end of 1960, Tibet had established 1,009 organs of state power at township level, 283 at district level, 78 at county level(including county-level districts) and eight at the prefecture (city) level.

The number of cadres of Tibetan and other ethnic groups totaled more than 10,000.

Among them, Tibetans head all townships and account for more than 90 percent of the district-level leaders.

More than 300 Tibetan cadres held leading posts at or above the county level. And more than 4,400 liberated serfs and slaves were trained as cadres at the grass-roots level.

Former serfs and slaves were able to enjoy the same rights as their masters had by attending a general election in 1961.

In September 1965, the First People's Congress of Tibet convened, at which the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region was officially proclaimed.

More than 80 percent of the 301 deputies to the congress were Tibetans or other ethnic minorities. More than 11 percent were patriots from the upper strata and religious figures in Tibet. Most of the deputies of the Tibetan ethnic group to the congress were liberated serfs and slaves.

Source: Xinhua

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