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Tibetans mark 1st Serf Emancipation Day
    Date:03-30-2009 Source:CCTV.com Author:    

 

Tibet is celebrating its first Serf Emancipation Day on Saturday to commemorate the liberation of about one million serfs fifty years ago. An official ceremony was held just hours ago in front of the Potala Palace in the regional capital of Lhasa.


Tibet is celebrating its first Serf Emancipation Day on Saturday to commemorate the liberation of about one million serfs fifty years ago. An official ceremony was held just hours ago in front of the Potala Palace in the regional capital of Lhasa.

A day about history is written in history. The first Serfs Emancipation Day is also the fiftieth anniversary of democratic reform in Tibet. More than thirteen thousand people are here to commemorate the movement.

Zhang Qingli, secretary of CPC Committee of Tibet, said, "It is an important part of China’s democratic reform, a crucial milestone in the world’s movement to abolish slavery, and a profound progress in international human rights efforts.”

For centuries, Tibetan serfs were confined to their owners’ land and exploited. Every day they endured bare feet, patched clothes, empty stomachs and dirty heavy toil.

Seventy-two year old Gesang Deji recalls her suffering and compares it with her life today.

Gesang Deji, who is a former serf, said, "I used to work day and night. I did nothing for myself but to exhaust all my strength on the master's land. I was treated as cattle. It was a terrible experience. Now I have my own house and can do things as I wish. I feel like a human being, a happy human being. This is what emancipation meant for us."

Fifty years ago today, China’s central government announced it would dissolve the aristocratic local government and begin the establishment of Tibet Autonomous Region. It marked the end of a rigid caste system characterized by theocracy.

March 28th is not just a fate-changing date for serfs. For all Tibetans, it marks the step that put them on the path of modernization.

Serfs in old Tibet used to say “the only thing you can take away with is your shadow, and the only thing you can leave behind is your footprints”. Today, Tibetans have reason to celebrate. The end to feudal serfdom here fifty years ago gave people the right to live as human beings. And it’s hoped by establishing this day, history will not be forgotten.

 
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