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A giant step in human progress in Tibet

By Source:Xinhua 2015-11-08

The coming March 28 is a memorable date in the history of world human rights. Fifty-three years before that day, China's Tibet started democratic reform in its land of more than 1.2 million square km. The event put an end to the centuries-old feudal serfdom under theocratic rule and gave freedom to some 1 million serfs.

The democratic reform of Tibet constituted an important chapter in the worldwide movement to abolish slavery, marking historic progress of world human rights. The date should be remembered and celebrated by all those who are concerned about human rights.

Serfdom confined serfs to the land of their owners, and subjected serfs to cruel exploitation through human bondage. Serfdom not only fettered the growth of productive forces, but also strangled people's freedom. Along with the start of the Industrial Revolution and the awakening of humanism, this system that went against the tide of history should have long been swept onto the rubbish heap of history.

Unfortunately, the system did not die out in some parts of the world until recent decades. African Slave Trade by some European countries to Americas lasted more than four centuries. Plantations that used large number of slaves still existed in southern United States till the 19th century.

To the eyes of some Western scholars, Tibet before March 28, 1959, presented a similar dark picture. American Tibetologist Melvyn C. Goldstein noted that the old system of Tibet was to confine labor to the land so that land owners could greatly benefit from it.

In his book "Old Tibet Faces New China," French traveler Alexander David-Neel wrote, "All the farmers in Tibet are serfs saddled with lifelong debts, and it is almost impossible to find any of them who have paid off their debts."

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The picture shows a family of serfs living in a shabby tent. Miserable life of serfs. [File Photo]

Charles Bell, who lived in Lhasa as a British trade representative in the 1920s, described in his book "Portrait of A Dalai Lama: The Life and Times of the Great Thirteenth" that the theocratic position of the Dalai Lama enabled him to administer rewards and punishments as he wished, because he held absolute power over both this life and the next of the serfs, and coerced them with such power.

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