Illustrated White Paper on Democratic Reform in Tibet-Abolishment of Feudal Serfdom in Tibet

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Abolishment of Feudal Serfdom in Tibet

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Carrying out democratic reform and abolishing the feudal serfdom of theocracy was an inevitable requirement for social progress. It was a major task of the people's democratic revolution led by the Communist Party of China, and was the only solution for social development in Tibet. Moreover, it reflected the yearning of the overwhelming majority of the Tibetan people. In 1959, the Central People's Government carried out a great historical reform in Tibetan history, and profoundly changed the fate of the Tibetan people by launching the democratic reform and abolishing serfdom, a grim and backward feudal ystem.

 

 

Farmers in Nedong County, Shannan, stage a parade in support of "three antis and two reductions" campaign and the democratic reform.

 

 

"Three Antis and Two Reductions" Campaign

By the second half of 1959 the "three antis and two reductions" campaign had been accomplished among 450,000 farmers across 51 counties in Tibet. Up to 8.5 million ke of usury grain loans were written off in Lhasa, Shannan, Gyangze, Lhagang and Xigaze, and rents and interest were cut by 300,000 ke of grain, equivalent to 123 million kg of grain, or 750 kg per farmer. More than 20,000 nangsan (slaves) were freed, issued 580000 ke of grain, equivalent to 8.12 million kg of grain, and given shelter, farming tools and living necessities.

Abolishing the oppression and exploitation of feudal serfdom system, liberating a million serfs and slaves. After the quelling of the armed rebellion in 1959, the Central People's Government immediately dissolved the Kasha regime and its armed forces, courts and prisons, which had oppressed the Tibetan people for hundreds of years. At the same time, it repealed the old Tibetan Code and barbarous punishments. This was followed by a planned and step-by-step campaign in the rural areas against rebellion, corvee labor and slavery, and for reduction of rent for land and of interest on loans; a campaign launched in the pastoral areas against rebellion, corvee labor and slavery, and helping hired herdsmen and herd owners; a campaign launched in the monasteries against rebellion, feudal privileges and exploitation, and to square accounts with political persecution, hierarchical oppression and economic exploitation; a campaign launched in the urban areas against rebellion, the feudal system, exploitation and privileges, and on reduction of rent for land and of interest on loans. In addition, the democratic reform was conducted in the border areas by stages, abolishing the bondage of the serfs and slaves to their feudal masters, as well as the feudal system, exploitation and privileges, and corvee labor and high-interest loans.

 

 

On August 10, 1959, serfs of the Ganden Monastery set fire to all indentures, corvee, usury and slave ownership documents, signifying an end to the privildges enjoyed by lamaseries under the feudal serf system.

 

The one million serfs and slaves in Tibet were emancipated. They became the masters of their country, as well as Tibet. Their lives and personal freedom are now protected and safeguarded by the Chinese Constitution and law. They no longer suffer from the serf-owners' political oppression, forced labor and inhuman treatment, as well as heavy corvee taxes and usurious exploitation. Nyima Tsering, who was elected the first chairman of the Farmers' Association during the democratic re-form, used to be a serf of Surkhang Wangchen Gelek, a galoin of the Tibet local government. Wangchen Gelek once said, "Nyima Tsering is my property. I will do whatever I like to him. If I like, I can roll him into a ball and put him in my pocket, or stretch him into a belt and tie it around my waist." After the democratic reform, Nyima Tsering said, "Now my personal freedom is protected by the law. I am no longer another's private property. How wonderful this is!" Tsering Lhamo had been a serf for more than 30 years. After the democratic reform, she organized the first Nangsan Mutual Aid Team at Kyerpa Township, in Nedong County, Shannan Prefecture. Later, she held the post of vice chairman of the Standing Committee of People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

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