Illustrated White Paper on Democratic Reform in Tibet-Cruel political oppression and corporal punishments

China Human Rights Net > News > Focus > Illustrated White Paper on Democratic Reform in Tibet > I. Old Tibet -- A Society of Feudal Serfdom under Theocracy

Cruel political oppression and corporal punishments


China's government Monday published a white paper on the situation in Tibet before and since1959 to mark the 50th anniversary of the region's Democratic Reform. The paper, released by the State Council Information Office, reviewed the profound changes that have taken place in the past 50 years. It also shed light on the laws governing the social development of Tibet, and attempts to rebut lies and rumors it alleges were spread by the 14th Dalai Lama and his hard-core supporters.



A serf is punished.


Cruel political oppression and corporal punishments. As stipulated in the Tibet's local code, when serfs "infringe upon" the interests of the three estate-holders, the estate-holders can "have their eyes gouged out, legs hamstrung, tongues cut out, or hands severed, or have them hurled from a cliff, drowned or otherwise killed; such punishments are warning to others not to follow their example." Any serf "who voices grievances at the palace, behaving disgracefully, should be arrested and whipped; anyone who disobeys a master shall be arrested; anyone who spy on a master shall be arrested; a commoner who offends an official shall be arrested." When people of different classes and ranks violated the same criminal law, the criteria for imposing penalties and the means of punishment were quite different in old Tibet. As stipulated in the Code, a servant who fought and severely injured his master could have his hands or feet chopped off; but a master who injured a servant only need to give the servant medical treatment; and a servant who injured a Living Buddha was deemed to have committed a felony and would have his eyes gouged out, a limb amputated, or even put to death.



In old Tibet, manors, monasteries and tribe leaders as well as local governments had prisons in which to confine recalcitrant serfs. Those held in custody were brutally tortured. The picture shows the scorpion cave in which serfs were executed.


A Russian traveler in Lhasa in the early 20th century, wrote in his book "A Buddhist Pilgrim to the Holy Place of Tibet": "The offenders are mostly poverty-stricken Tibetans punished either by having their fingers or noses cut off, or, in most cases, by being blinded in both eyes. Such disfigured and blind people are seen begging in the streets of Lhasa every day. Exile is another type of punishment. Offenders are shackled and chained, and have to wear a large round wooden collar around their necks all their life. They are sent to remote regions for hard labor or work as serfs for feudal aristocrats and patriarchal chiefs. The most severe punishment of all is, of course, the death penalty, with the victims drowned in rivers (as in Lhasa) or thrown over rocky cliffs (as in Xigaze)." (A Buddhist Pilgrim to the Holy Place of Tibet, Gombojab Tsebekovitch Tsybikoff)


David MacDonald, a Briton, wrote in his book "The Land of the Lama": "Capital punishment is deemed the heaviest category of punishment in Tibet, to which the most inhuman practice of dismemberment is added based on the hypothesis proposed by Tibetanlamas that after dismemberment the human soul cannot be reincarnated. The most common practice is to throw the condemned prisoner into a river in a leather wrapper, which will sink in about five minutes. If he remains alive after this time, he will be tossed into the water again until he dies. Afterwards, the body will be dismembered, and hurled into the river to drift downward with the current... Even more appalling is the practice of gouging out a prisoner's eyes. A piece of heated, U-shaped iron is inserted into the eye sockets, or boiling water or oil is poured in, and the eyeballs are prized out with an iron hook." (The Land of the Lama, David MacDonald)



The local gorvernment of old Tibet punished a herdman by cutting off his hands. He revealed the brutality of serf system after his liberation.

There were penitentiaries or private jails in monasteries and aristocrats' residences, where instruments of torture were kept and clandestine tribunals held to punish serfs and slaves. In the Ganden Monastery there were many handcuffs, fetters, cudgels, and instruments of torture used for eye gouging and hamstringing. The private monastery administrative office set up by Trijang Rinpoche, junior tutor of the present 14th Dalai Lama, killed and injured more than 500 serfs and poor monks, in Dechen Dzong (present-day Dagze County) jailed 121 people, sent 89 into exile, forced 538 into slavery, forced 1,025 commoners into exile, forced 72 divorces, and 484 women were raped there.??
In the Archives of the Tibet Autonomous Region there is a letter from a department of the Tibet local government to Rabden in the early 1950s, saying that, to celebrate the Dalai Lama's birthday, all the staff of Gyumey would chant the sutra. To successfully complete this ceremony, some special food would be thrown to the animals. Thus, a corpus of wet intestine, two skulls, many kinds of blood and a full human skin were urgently needed, all of which must be promptly delivered. A religious ceremony for the Dalai Lama used human blood, skulls and skin, showing how cruel and bloody the feudal serfdom system under theocracy was in old Tibet.


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