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Gala marks emancipation of serfs in Tibet

By  Liu Xiangrui and Daqiong (China Daily)

08:52, March 29, 2012

Residents enjoy a gala show at a park in Lhasa to celebrate the freedom of serfs on Wednesday, the fourth Serfs Emancipation Day in the Tibet autonomous region. (China Daily/Liu Xiangrui)

Freedom means a lot to Lhasa resident Nyimatsering.

The 71-year-old carried on his daily activities only after attending a special memorial on Wednesday morning to mark the emancipation of serfs.

"I'm very excited and happy to be here to celebrate a festival that truly belongs to us," said Nyimatsering. "I have kept telling my children to cherish their lives today. It's hard-earned."

Tens of thousands of Tibetans flooded streets, squares, public parks and religious sites on Wednesday to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the abolition of feudal serfdom in Tibet.

Several thousand local people gathered on Potala Square in front of the holy Potala Palace to attend a flag-raising ceremony.

According to Nyimatsering, his family members were serfs for generations. He was 15 years old when he and his parents were liberated from serfdom in their home county in Xigaze of Tibet.

"My fate has changed since," said Nyimatsering, who earns about 2,000 yuan ($320) per month after retiring in 2002 as a civil servant. He still remembers the hardships he and his serf parents endured.

"We had no freedom at all. We had to do whatever our lords told us to do. Any slight mistake would lead to a thrashing," Nyimatsering said. "We were given little and poor food. My parents had to work so hard that they sometimes didn't have time to eat."

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