An article to be published Wednesday in the People's Daily, the Guangming Daily and other Chinese newspapers under the byline of Yi Duo provides insight into the intricate relations between the Dalai Lama and feudal serfdom.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in old Tibet, and the Tibetan regional legislature has endorsed a bill making March 28 the annual Serfs Emancipation Day in the region.
The Dalai Lama and his followers, however, have been attacking the move as "an insult to the Tibetans" and "creating new destabilizing factors." The article said their "emotional reaction" came as no surprise, in light of their inseparable relations with theocratic feudal serfdom in old Tibet.
Tibet practiced feudal serfdom for hundreds of years, until 1959. The system, although depicted by some either with ulterior motives or without the slightest knowledge of the old Tibet as a "paradise on Earth," was dark and barbarous as proven by historical facts and documents, it said.
In his book "The Unveiling of Lhasa", Edmund Candler, an India-based correspondent of the British newspaper Daily Mail, who entered Tibet with the British army in 1905, said Tibet was then under a feudal serfdom where peasants were slaves of the lamas. He even compared the Potala Palace, the residence of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, with the bloodiest medieval castles in Europe in the Middle Ages.
The Dalai Lama himself was the major representative of the theocratic system and the biggest serf owner in Tibet, Yi's article said.
Before 1959, the family of the 14th Dalai Lama possessed 27 manors, 30 pastures and more than 6,000 serfs. The family annually extracted about 33,000 ke (one ke equals 14 kg) of qingke (highland barley), 2,500 ke of butter and 2 million liang of silver (15 liang of silver equaled 1 silver dollar at the time) from its serfs. The article cited historical documents.
Although the central government was very prudent in the democratic reforms of Tibet in the 1950s, the Dalai Lama and his followers wanted their interests protected in every way. To that end, they staged a wide-ranging but failed armed rebellion in March 1959.
In the years since his flight, the Dalai Lama has praised theocratic serfdom on various occasions to win support from the Tibetans who fled with him and from the West, the article said. It cited the statement the Dalai Lama made on March 10 this year, in which he called the Tibet he used to rule, where cruel treatment of the serfs was written into the laws, as a "free" land.
"It seemed the theocratic feudal serf system had never existed," Yi's article said.
The article said this stance of the Dalai Lama was not surprising since his status, power and interests were all based on such a system. Suppose one day he ruled Tibet again, the article said. He would see it as natural to reimpose the system on the Tibetan people.
Even the self-claimed "democracy" of the "Tibetan government-in-exile" was odd, as the democracy belonged to the Dalai Lama alone, the article said.
It cited a 1963 document and a 1991 charter introduced by the Dalai Lama and his associates as examples.
In the 1963 document on Tibet's political system and constitution, the group stated that the major powers of the Tibet government would be in the charge of the Dalai Lama.
In 1991, the group adopted the Charter of Tibetans in-Exile, where it reiterated: "The executive power of the Tibetan Administration shall be vested in His Holiness, the Dalai Lama."
Nor would they relinquish the theocratic system, as the charter also stipulated that the Tibetan political system would be an integration of politics and religion, the article said.
In November last year, the Dalai Lama and his associates held a special meeting on Tibet's future amid intensifying internal conflicts, where they called for "all Tibetans" to respect and support any decisions made by the Dalai Lama at any time.
Yi also reminded readers that the government-in-exile's full name in English read: "Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama".
"Doesn't such a name lay bare what a thing the democracy claimed by the Dalai Lama is?" he asked.
(Xinhua News Agency March 24, 2009)