Monday, March 30, 2009

China Pre-stamped Postcard JP155

China Pre-stamped Postcard
Name: 50th Anniversary of Emancipation of One Million Tibetan Serfs
Number: JP155
Date of Issue: 28 March 2009

On March 28, 1959, the State Council issued an order to dismiss the local government of Tibet and replace it with a preparatory committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region. On the very day, about one million serfs were freed.

In the 1950s, Tibet was a serfdom, which was contrary to the utopian land of "Shangri-la" depicted by British author James Hilton in his novel "The Lost Horizon.

Under the Tibetan serfdom, serf owners, who accounted for less than five percent of the population, occupied all the cultivated land and grassland and the majority of the livestock in Tibet.

The owners could exploit their serfs by using their labor, levying taxes on them, and profiteering by giving loans to their serfs at an interest of 10-30 percent. Serfs, sometimes, had to repay their debts generation by generation.

Before 1959, 80-90 percent of Tibetan serfs owed debts to their owners, and 30-40 percent of these serfs were paying debts that were borrowed by older generations.

The old Tibetan law divided Tibetans into three classes, in nine grades. The inferiors had to be punished if they offended the superiors.

Under the old law, the cost of a first-grade superior was equal to gold weighed as much as his corpse, while the cost of the ninth-grade inferior was a straw rope.

After March 28, 1959, serfdom-based feudal regimes of all levels were toppled and the people's democratic rule was established in Tibet. The Democratic Reform was launched, in which the liberated serfs were given cultivated land and cattle, for the first time in their lives.

In 1961, the first-ever elections of people's congresses of different levels were held in Tibet, with all former serfs and slaves allowed to use their rights of electing or being elected.

In 2002, 93.09 percent voters in Tibet joined in the elections, while in some areas, the voting rate was 100 percent. Minority lawmakers made up over 80 percent of the total at the regional and prefectural levels and over 90 percent of the total at the county and town levels. More...

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