Gala marks emancipation of serfs
Updated: 2012-03-29 08:05
By Liu Xiangrui and Daqiong in Lhasa (China Daily)
Residents enjoy a gala show at a park in Lhasa to celebrate the freedom of serfs on Wednesday, the fourth Serfs Emancipation Day in the Tibet autonomous region. Liu Xiangrui / China Daily
Freedom means a lot to Lhasa resident Nyimatsering.
The 71-year-old carried on his daily activities only after attending a special memorial on Wednesday morning to mark the emancipation of serfs.
"I'm very excited and happy to be here to celebrate a festival that truly belongs to us," said Nyimatsering. "I have kept telling my children to cherish their lives today. It's hard-earned."
Tens of thousands of Tibetans flooded streets, squares, public parks and religious sites on Wednesday to celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the abolition of feudal serfdom in Tibet.
Several thousand local people gathered on Potala Square in front of the holy Potala Palace to attend a flag-raising ceremony.
According to Nyimatsering, his family members were serfs for generations. He was 15 years old when he and his parents were liberated from serfdom in their home county in Xigaze of Tibet.
"My fate has changed since," said Nyimatsering, who earns about 2,000 yuan ($320) per month after retiring in 2002 as a civil servant. He still remembers the hardships he and his serf parents endured.
"We had no freedom at all. We had to do whatever our lords told us to do. Any slight mistake would lead to a thrashing," Nyimatsering said. "We were given little and poor food. My parents had to work so hard that they sometimes didn't have time to eat."
He was required to work at the age of 7, starting with easier tasks, including caring for children and herding sheep and cows. He did not learn to read until he was 15.
"In 1959, Premier Zhou Enlai ordered the democratic reform of Tibet. For us, it was the moment of deliverance and liberation," he said.
The reform ended the history of feudal serfdom and returned freedom to the more than 1 million serfs and slaves in Tibet, accounting for more than 95 percent of the population.
Nyimatsering was then sent to a college in Shaanxi province to study accounting.
"I'm grateful that the country helped me gain freedom."
In January 2009, the people's congress of Tibet decided to make March 28 a memorial day for the liberation of the serfs.
Residents also enjoyed shows in local parks and squares, staged by local government and residents' committees for the celebration.
"The show is great! I especially loved the traditional ethnic performances," said Tseringdondrup, a 60-year-old who moved to Lhasa four years ago.
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(China Daily 03/29/2012 page7)