Tibet's Serf Emancipation Day (20 Jan 2009)

LHASA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Tibetan legislators endorsed a bill Monday to designate March 28 as an annual Serfs Emancipation Day, to mark the date on which about 1 million serfs in the region were freed 50 years ago.

On March 28, 1959, the central government announced it would dissolve the aristocratic local government of Tibet and replace it with a preparatory committee for establishing the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The move came after the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters, most of whom were slave owners attempting to maintain serfdom.

That meant the end of serfdom and the abolition of the hierarchic social system characterized by theocracy, with the Dalai Lama as the core of the leadership. About 1 million serfs and slaves, accounting for 90 percent of Tibetan population in the1950s, were thus freed.

According to Gaisang Yeshes, former head of the Tibetan Press of Ancient Books and a sociologist with the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences, serfdom developed before the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-1368).

Serfdom was formalized after the hierarchic social system characterized by theocracy was established in the 13th century, when the Yuan Dynasty delegated Tibetan religious leaders to administer the region. The system was further developed after the Dalai Lama became the paramount leader of Tibet.

Serfs, who accounted for more than 90 percent of the population of old Tibet, were treated as private property by their owners, including the family of the Dalai Lama. The latter owned some 80 percent of production materials -- farm land, pastures and livestock.

Serfs were classified into three categories in accordance with their possessions -- Tralpa, Duchung and Nangsan, with the third one being the most miserable who could be sold by his owner as cattle.

Landowners included aristocrats, monasteries and government officials. An exhibition by the Museum of Tibet showed that they owned 24 percent, 36.8 percent and 28.9 percent, respectively, of the arable land in the plateau region before 1959.

Landowners were entitled to legally insult, punish, buy and sell, give away, whip and even kill their serfs.

In 1733, the 7th Dalai Lama controlled 3,150 monasteries and 121,440 households, and serfs had to work for the monasteries despite lack of enough food and proper clothing.

Saixim Village, Doilungdeqen County, 50 km northwest of Lhasa, was a manor of the 14th Dalai Lama's family before 1959. Older villagers can still recall that five people were beaten to death and 11 injured in the service of the Dalai Lama's family during a 10-year period.

In the museum there are about a score of black-and-white photos to show the brutality of landowners: slaves' eyes gouged out, fingers chopped off, noses cut and the tendons of their feet removed.

In the late 1940s, when the Dalai Lama was to celebrate his birthday, the Tibetan local government issued an order that people should prepare human skulls, blood, skin and guts for the religious ceremony.

"The day that changed my life" -- Tibet sets "Serfs Emancipation Day"
www.chinaview.cn 2009-01-19 10:09:04
Special Report: Focus on Tibet by Xinhua writers Bai Xu, Gama Doje and Laba Cering http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-01/19/content_10681877.htm

See also Michael Parenti's Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth (updated and expanded version, January 2007)

Problems arise when religions get into the business of governance (inquisitions, wars, persecution, etc). Organized religion should be separate from the state, subject to the will of the majority of the people as set down in constitutions and other state documents; governments can and should grant freedom of religion to people so they can practice religion if they so choose as long as this practice doesn't interfere with the rights of others who choose a different religion or no religion at all.

Organized religion is the attempt to make a business out of religion to make an income off it, to secure power (political, financial, moral, cultural,...) over the people. This is just the sort of thing that the prophet Jesus opposed.

Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.

Bible, NLT, Matthew 21:12

Religion is a step of evolution during which humans became aware of natural human behavior and developed conscience. Religion is part of our upbringing/training in the behavior fit for human beings. Most of the world's religions supply the basics, and caretakers and teachers of youth should pass these basics on to the young. What these basics consist of are the laws of nature pertaining to human behavior.

No one person is responsible for complete logic; it is in nature itself. The fundamental laws of the universe are what give you complete logic. No ruling class can completely deal with nature; dialectics of nature alone is your savior, your messiah. Do you know what the purpose of the ten commandments is? The ten commandments make you aware of how you are built and how you function. You function according to these and many other “commandments.” To prove this, think of all the good things you have done, and then consider if these were done out of obedience or because it was natural. Here the system makes you go against yourself so that few recognize the dialectics of nature and stick by it. When you understand and carry out complete logic, it eliminates worry and carries out all “commandments.”

Handbook of Complete Logic by Jack Fischel
http://jdchafe.freeservers.com/handbookofcompletelogicbyjackfischelsecondedition20080411part2.htm (search with keyword "commandments")

Governments run by organized religions are brought on by unnatural forces such as when fascist-imperialist capitalist countries engineer coups to overthrow governments of foreign countries as for example with Mosaddeq in Iran; such interference in the internal affairs of other countries disrupts their natural development. Iran is still suffering repercussions till this day. The CIA supported the Dalai Lama and supporters against China's People's Liberation Army and though the Tibetans may not be completely happy with communist rule,

. . . few Tibetans would welcome a return of the corrupt aristocratic clans that fled with him [the Dalai Lama] in 1959 and that comprise the bulk of his advisers. Many Tibetan farmers, for example, have no interest in surrendering the land they gained during China’s land reform to the clans. Tibet’s former slaves say they, too, don’t want their former masters to return to power. “I’ve already lived that life once before,” said Wangchuk, a 67-year-old former slave who was wearing his best clothes for his yearly pilgrimage to Shigatse, one of the holiest sites of Tibetan Buddhism. He said he worshipped the Dalai Lama, but added, “I may not be free under Chinese communism, but I am better off than when I was a slave.”

Michael Parenti (see article cited above) uses this quote from the Washington Post article
Tibet Caught in China's Web by John Pomfret
Washington Post, 23 July 1999.