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Fifty Years of Democratic Reform in Tibet [full text]
Updated: 2009-03-02 18:31



I. Old Tibet — A Society of Feudal Serfdom under Theocracy

II. Momentous Democratic Reform in Tibet

III. Tremendous Historic Changes over the Past Half-century



Tibet has been an inseparable part of China since ancient times. The peaceful liberation of Tibet, the driving out of the imperialist aggressor forces from Tibet, the democratic reform and abolition of theocratic feudal serfdom in Tibet were significant parts of the Chinese people's national democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism in modern history, as well as major historical tasks facing the Chinese government after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Prior to 1959, Tibet had long been a society of feudal serfdom under theocratic rule, a society which was even darker than medieval society in Europe. The 14th Dalai Lama, as a leader of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and also head of the Tibetan local government, monopolized both political and religious power, and was the chief representative of the feudal serf owners, who, accounting for less than five percent of the total population of Tibet, possessed the overwhelming part of the means of production, and monopolized the material and cultural resources of Tibet. The serfs and slaves, making up over 95 percent of the total population, suffered destitution, cruel oppression and exploitation, and possessed no means of production or personal freedom whatsoever, not to mention other basic human rights. The long centuries of theocratic rule and feudal serfdom stifled the vitality of Tibetan society, and brought about its decline and decay.

In 1951, the Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet (hereinafter the "17-Article Agreement") was signed. The Agreement enabled Tibet to repel the imperialist forces and realize peaceful liberation, and created the essential prerequisites for Tibet to join the other parts of the country in the drive for common progress and development.

The "17-Article Agreement" prescribed the necessity of reforming the social system of Tibet, and stressed that "the local government of Tibet shall carry out reform voluntarily." However, in consideration of the special circumstances of Tibet, the Central People's Government adopted a circumspect attitude toward the reform. With great patience, tolerance and sincerity, it reasoned and waited for the local upper ruling strata of Tibet to "carry out reform voluntarily." Instigated and supported by imperialist forces, however, some people in the upper ruling strata, despite the ever-growing demand of the people for democratic reform, were totally opposed to reform and proclaimed their determination never to carry it out. In an attempt to perpetuate feudal serfdom, these people publicly abandoned the "17-Article Agreement" and staged an all-out armed rebellion on March 10, 1959. In order to safeguard the unity of the nation and the basic interests of the Tibetan people, the Central People's Government took decisive measures to quell the rebellion together with the Tibetan people. Meanwhile, a vigorous democratic reform started on a mass scale in Tibet. The reform overthrew Tibet's feudal serfdom system under theocracy and liberated about one million serfs and slaves, ushering in a new era with the people becoming their own masters. The democratic reform was the most extensive, deepest and greatest social reform in the history of Tibet, and signified an epoch-making event in Tibet's history of social development and the progress of its human rights, as well as a significant advance in the history of human civilization and universal human rights.

Over the past half century, thanks to the care of the Central People's Government and aid from the whole nation, the liberated people of all ethnic groups in Tibet have, in the capacity of masters of the nation, enthusiastically participated in the grand course of constructing a new society and creating a new lifestyle, and worked unprecedented miracles in Tibetan history. The social system of Tibet has developed by leaps and bounds; its modernization has advanced rapidly; Tibetan society has undergone earth-shaking historic changes; and remarkable progress has been witnessed in the cause of human rights that has attracted worldwide attention.

The year 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the democratic reform in Tibet. The magnificent process of the democratic reform and the profound changes that have taken place in Tibet over the past 50 years shed light on the laws governing the social development of Tibet and expose the lies and rumors of various kinds spread by the Dalai Lama clique about the so-called "Tibet issue," and the evil nature of the 14th Dalai Lama through facts, making clear historical rights and wrongs, and the truth about Tibet and its development and changes.

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