V. The People Gain Personal
Freedom

The central people's government and the local government of Tibet signed in 1951 the 17-Article Agreement on measures for the peaceful liberation of Tibet, and Tibet was peacefully liberated. This brought hope to the Tibetan people in their struggle for equal personal rights. After the quelling of the armed rebellion in 1959, the central people's government, in compliance with the wishes of the Tibetan people, conducted the Democratic Reform in Tibet and abolished the extremely decadent and dark feudal serfdom. The million serfs and slaves were emancipated. They were no longer regarded as the personal property of serf-owners who could use them for transactions, transfer, mortgage for a debt or exchange or exact their toil. From that time on they gained the right to personal freedom. This was a great, epoch-making change in Tibetan history.

Now old Tibet's codes have been abrogated. Citizens are no longer divided into three classes and nine ranks. All sorts of barbarous punishments are prohibited and privately established prisons have all been dismantled. New China's Constitution and laws guarantee that every Tibetan enjoys the right to subsistence and personal safety.

The Democratic Reform abolished the ownership of the means of production by serf-owners. The farmland originally occupied by those serf-owners involved in the armed rebellion was distributed free to landless serfs and slaves. In Kesong Manor, Nedong County in Shannan Prefecture, 443 peasants were given 1,696 ke of land. When the title deeds for land and debt contracts were thrown into the fire, the former serfs danced around the blaze. The 75-year-old Soinam said, "I used to till the land of my master, and I belonged to him day and night. When asked to do corvee at midnight, I dared not wait till dawn the next day. Now I have received land. I feel I can sleep well and have a good appetite. I really want to live several years longer so that I can see the happy future." A policy of redemption was introduced with regard to the land and other means of production of serf-owners who did not participate in the rebellion. The 900,000 ke of land and over 820,000 head of livestock of the 1,300 serf-owners and their agents, who did not participate in the rebellion, were redeemed by the state at a cost topping 45 million yuan.

The Tibetan laboring people no longer suffer from the heavy corvee taxes and usurious exploitation by the serf-owners. The fruits of their labor all belong to themselves, and the enthusiasm of the Tibetan people for production became unprecedentedly high. The region's grain output in 1960 increased by 12.6 percent over 1959 and the number of livestock by 10 percent. The Tibetan people began to enjoy the right to subsistence, along with adequate food and clothing.