Tibet marks 52nd anniversary of serfs' emancipation

15:52, March 28, 2011      

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Soldiers hold the flag-raising ceremony at the Potala Palace in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, March 28, 2011. More than 3,000 people joined in the ceremony on Monday to celebrate the Serfs Emancipation Day, which is marked every year on March 28 to commemorate the end of feudal serfdom in Tibet. (Xinhua/Gesang Dawa)
A national flag-raising ceremony was held in the heart of Lhasa Monday morning to mark the 52nd anniversary of the emancipation of Tibetan serfs.

More than 3,000 people from all walks of life gathered in a square in front of the Potala Palace, watched the flag being raised, sang the national anthem and celebrated the historic date that marks the freedom and equal status of all Tibetans.

Monday is the third "Serfs Emancipation Day."

In 2009, March 28 was designated the day to commemorate the 1959 democratic reform in Tibet, which ended feudal serfdom and freed about 1 million Tibetan serfs, accounting for more than 90 percent of the region's population.

Many of the former serfs are still alive today.

Padma, 71, compared Tibet's democratic reform to sunshine. "It was like a ray of sunlight that dispelled the dark clouds, and we became masters of our land," she said.

Padma, a native Lhasa resident, was born a serf. As a child, she remembered her father being sold, at least six times, from one serf owner to another and flogged for minor offences. "My father died young and never witnessed the happy life I had."

Since the 1959 emancipation of serfs, Tibet has maintained rapid social and economic growth.

Last year, Tibet's GDP reached 50.8 billion yuan (7.75 billion U.S. dollars), with an annual growth rate of 12.4 percent, said Padma Choling, chairman of the regional government, in a televised speech Sunday.

Meanwhile, the per capita net income of both farmers and herdsmen hit 4,319 yuan, twice the 2005 figure.

The average life expectancy of Tibetans in Tibet nearly doubled, from 35.5 years before 1959 to 67 years, he said.

He underscored development and stability as two critical tasks for Tibet, warning that any attempts to jeopardize Tibet's stability and progress were doomed to failure.

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Source: Xinhua
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