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Witnesses tell real stories of democratic reform
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In the past five decades, Tibet has undergone dramatic changes. Today, let the witnesses tell you Tibet's past and present.

In 1959

It was unprecedented for Migmar Dondrup, a young man from a serf family of generations, to have his own land.

Lhabugyi, an official of Lhunzhub County of Tibet Autonomous Region, fought fiercely against the rebels under heavy gunfire.

Correspondent of Xinhua News Agency Lin Tian witnessed Khesum Manor become "the first village to launch democratic reform."

That year the thousand-year feudal serfdom in Tibet was abolished. Since then, millions of serfs have been freed from the shackles and become master of their own fate.

Farmer Losang Qambai(3rd R) of Jigu Village in Maizhokunggar County, southwest China's TAR, and his wife Tang Chong(2nd L) cheer up with their grandchildren on March 21, 2009. [Xinhua photo]

Farmer Losang Qambai(3rd R) of Jigu Village in Maizhokunggar County, southwest China's TAR, and his wife Tang Chong(2nd L) cheer up with their grandchildren on March 21, 2009. [Xinhua photo]


Hearing the news that the reactionary Dalai clique fled abroad after the rebellion was put down in March 1959, Migmar was so excited that he wanted to drink some barley liquor to celebrate it. But he was too poor to have any drink.

What impressed Migmar most was the memory of beatings by owner Tashi Wangchuk. Once, the poor man was whipped 100 lashes just because he fetched a bit barley from the barn to stop starvation. It took him 20 days to recover and be able to stand and walk. He had a relative, a groom, who was beaten to death because the owner suspected he wasted animal fodder in his job.


It was novel for the serfs in Tibet to hear such word as "election" for the first time in 1959. Before the Democratic Reform, they were only "tools that can talk," with nothing like "personal liberty," "democratic right" ever heard of. They were bought and sold as the serf-owners liked.

Now, the emancipated serfs began living a life of dignity in various ways.

Lin Tian described the election in Khesum Village, the first ever for the serfs, in his journal on June 6, 1959. "Around 200, dressed in ragged costumes, leaning their heads forward with mouth half-open, were listening to the deputy secretary of the Village Work Committee: 'Today, we, the suffering people, are gathering to hold this meeting. We will elect the persons we trust to lead us to a new life. Anyone can be elected as long as he or she is kind-hearted and just.' In the end, the villagers, sitting in a ring, put their hands up proudly to express approval of the newly-elected village committee."


In the autumn of 1959, there was a good harvest throughout Tibet. It was the happiest moment for the serfs to hear that the Central People's Government declared all the crops to the growers themselves.


Before the Democratic Reform, almost all of the means of production and subsistence was in the hands of the feudal lords -- local officials, nobles and senior lamas. The serfs, accounting for 95 percent of the whole population of Tibet, had nothing at all. After the rebellion was crackled down, the property and land of the feudal lords were distributed to the serfs by the Central Government.

Happy life

Great changes have taken place with the passage of half a century.

Migmar Dondrup, now 75, lives in a big house of 300 sq m and has 33mu (5.5acres) of land to farm with an annual income of 40,000 yuan. He has ever served as director of Poor Peasant Association, deputy secretary of the Youth League Branch and head of township. He sighed with emotion: "Time and tide wait for no man. If I were a little bit younger, I could live to enjoy a happy life many years more."

In the fifth year after the Democratic Reform, Lhabugyi, was promoted to the head of Linzhou County. He has never forgotten the family of serf Duopuji whom he got along with in his early years. Sometimes he would call on them on his way of business trip. In 2006, paralysed Duopuji, in wheelchair, came to Lhasa to visit Lhabugyi who was retired from post, marveling at the tremendous changes in the big city.

Losang Qambai got married to a pretty girl and the couple has 11 children, three of whom college graduates. One of them has become a reporter of media under the central government who covered the Beijing Olympics last year. Satisfied with his life, Losang said with a smile: "Now, we have a very good life. You may ask me why I said so. Just go to see my new house built up last year. You can find the answer."

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