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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

The Democratic Reform in Tibet

January 23, 2009

People's Daily Online
January 20, 2009
As a great historical transformation in Tibetan history, the Democratic Reform in Tibet which started in March 1959 overthrew the feudal serfdom system and, since then, the serfs acquired personal freedom.
In 1951, the Central People's Government signed the Seventeen Article Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet with the former local government of Tibet, but Tibet's social system still remained a feudal theocracy ruled by a dictatorship of upper-class monks and feudal nobles.
In March 1959, the reactionary elements in the former Tibetan upper class tore up the Seventeen Article Agreement and launched an armed rebellion. Under the so-called banner of "opposing the rule of the Han Chinese," the rebellion was in essence a conspiracy to split the motherland and oppose the social reform strongly demanded by millions of serfs in Tibet. Their rebellion was soon suppressed by the People's Liberation Army with extensive support and help from the extensive masses of Tibetan serfs. This created favorable conditions for the smooth execution of democratic reform in Tibet.
In late March 1959, the democratic reform was formally started and carried out in stages, in an orderly manner. The first phase was the implementation of the "three opposes" (oppose the rebellion, oppose the wula - an indentured labor system imposed on Tibetan serfs, and oppose the personal bondage system) and of a campaign to reduce rent and to lower interest rates. In rural areas, a "those who labor shall receive" policy was applied to the land formerly owned by feudal lords who took part in the rebellion. For feudal lords who did not take part in the rebellion, a "20/80 rent reduction" policy was applied to their land, where feudal lords received 20 percent of the harvest and renters received 80 percent. At the same time, family slaves were freed and personal bondage was abolished. In grazing districts, incomes generating from livestock of herd owners who took part in the rebellion were transferred to the herdsmen. For herd owners who did not take part in the rebellion, livestock ownership did not change, but they were made to reduce exploitation and increase the incomes of their herdsmen.
The second phase was a confiscation of the agricultural means of production owned by feudal lords who took part in the rebellion and its redistribution to poor farmers and herdsmen. For feudal lords who did not take part in the rebellion, a policy of redemption was applied. The central government bought out their means of production and redistributed them to poor farmers and herdsmen free of charge. Feudal lords and herd owners also received a portion of the redistribution.
By People's Daily Online
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