(2) Democratic Reform
On June 24, 1958 Chairman Mao clearly pointed out that ¡°so long as the Tibetan reactionaries dared to plot overall rebellion, the laboring people there would, without question, be emancipated at an early date.¡± (Manuscripts of Mao Zedong Since the Founding of New China, Vol.7, p.286)
On March 22, 1959, after the Lhasa battle, Zhang Jingwu, Party secretary of the Tibet Work Committee, transmitted a Central Government instruction in Beijing to the work committee in Tibet. The local government of Tibet has torn up the 17-Article Agreement and betrayed the motherland to wage an all-out rebellion. The Central Government holds the work committee must boldly mobilize the masses and conduct the Democratic Reform while quelling the rebellion.
The CPC's working approach in Tibet shifted from the original united front with the Tibetan upper-class to the present direct mobilization of the local masses.
Van Praag says that land reform was imposed on the Tibetan people, who clearly expressed their unwillingness to see their original lifestyle replaced by another imposed on them, and that the Tibetans never benefitted from the Chinese living there. His statements caused people to ask two questions: First, was the Democratic Reform a spontaneous requirement of Tibetan people or was it imposed on them? Was there an internal cause for the land reform in Tibet? Second, has the Democratic Reform brought any benefits to the Tibetan people?
In old Tibet, serfs, no longer able to bear the exploitation and oppression, had spontaneously risen to oppose Tibetan government officials and serf owners many times.
In 1918, peasants and herdsmen in the 39-Tribe area suffered heavy corvee taxes and other excessive burdens. A representative was elected by some 150 households in the Gata Tribe to present a petition to the county government, but instead was locked up by county magistrate. Local people felt it would be better to kill the county magistrate and find a way out, when death would befall them sooner or later under such heavy corvee taxes. Gathering some 40 people, they surrounded the county government, strangled the county magistrate and seized the arms of 45 Tibetan soldiers. The Tibet an government sent heavy troop reinforcements to carry out bloody suppression of the Gata Tribe. The resistance of the masses failed in the end.
Between 1926-28, people in Bome waged a struggle against Gaxag government's exorbitant taxes. This was regarded as the biggest among the anti-Tibet government struggles in the last 100 years. Prince Gelang in Bome, making use of the rebellious spirit of the masses, gathered 300 people at night to attack the encampment of the Tibetan army and killed some 30 officers and men. Later, the Gaxag government sent troops to suppress and inflict a bloodbath on many villages in Bome. In some villages of dozens of households, only three survived.
In 1931, Caiba, a local noble in Gyadui, Rongzi County, Shannan, took a liking to the fertile and densely-populated Gyamei area, under direct jurisdiction of Gaxag, and intended to occupy it as his own. Through bribes, he was given the right to control its taxes and land leasing. Serfs in Gyamei were furious about having to turn over dual taxes to both the Gaxag and Caiba, saying that ¡°one horse can't afford two saddles,¡± and so they beat him to death with stones and cudgels. When the Gaxag government started to suppress this revolt, the serfs there escaped. The struggle lasted 22 years. The Gaxag didn't make the decision that Gyamei was no longer under control of Caiba until Tibet was peacefully liberated in 1951.
Such events are too numerous to be listed.
In old Tibet, many proverbs against the rule of serf owners prevailed among the masses.
It is obvious that in old Tibet, struggles against the serf owners occurred one after another, which constituted the internal cause for the resistance. But, as they lacked the leadership of a revolutionary party and guidance of advanced ideologies, they always failed under the suppression of serf owners.
Fundamental changes took place after the peaceful liberation of Tibet. Though the 17-Article Agreement stipulated that feudal serfdom would remain unchanged, the stark contrast between the CPC, which always fought for the interests of the people, and the Tibetan government, which extorted blood and sweat of the people, kept inspiring the knowledge of the broad masses of serfs. Apart from this, the achievements of revolutionary construction in the hinterland exerted a huge influence on Tibet. Urged by various factors, the number of serfs demanding reform in the struggle against serf owners increased year by year.
The rebellion of the reactionary upper class provided further awakening for serfs. Recognizing the reactionaries?real purpose of trying to perpetuate the evil feudal serfdom system, the long-smoldering demand for emancipation exploded. They supported the PLA to suppress the rebellion on their own initiative.
The CPC Central Committee, observing the time and judging the occasion, timely led the million of serfs in Tibet to the Democratic Reform to overturn the feudal slavery system. It was an action in conformity with the demand of the Tibetan people, not something imposed on them. Without the demand of the vast majority of serfs for transformation as the motive, it was impossible for anyone outside to promptly smash a system which had existed for a millennium.
The implementation of the Democratic Reform in Tibet proved effective.
The CPC was circumspect in carrying out the Democratic Reform in Tibet. First of all, it worked out measures to be taken and policies to be adopted. At that time, the demand of the serfs for reform carried all before it. How to start the Democratic Reform, and carry it on differently, with some serf owners involved in the rebellion and some not, and in light of different situations in agricultural and pastoral areas? These were the issues facing the CPC, particularly the Tibet Work Committee.
On March 22, 1959, the Central Government put forward a policy of ¡°conducting reform while quelling the rebellion, first in areas witnessing rebellion and second in other areas.¡± It stressed that the system of feudal possession must be abolished, but in different ways. The property of serf owners who participated in the rebellion must be confiscated and distributed to peasants; that of those who did not participate could be redeemed.
In mid-April, Chairman Mao said a buying-out policy could be adopted toward serf owners who did not take part in the rebellion during the Democratic Reform in Tibet.
In May, the Central Government approved the policies submitted by the Tibet Work Committee. According to them, the Democratic Reform in Tibet would be carried out in two stages. The first step would concentrate on ¡°Three Against and Two Reduction¡±(movement against rebellion, ula and slavery, and for the reduction of rent and interest charges). The second step would focus on distribution of land. The reform would proceed in full light of characteristics in Tibet, combining mobilization of the masses from below with consultation from above, relying on the laboring people, uniting all forces that could be united and extinguishing the feudal serfdom system step by step and in different ways.
Such measures, lines and policies have pointed out the right direction for the Democratic Reform in Tibet (mainly agricultural areas).
A. Democratic Reform in Agricultural Areas.
The Tibet Work Committee and its branches sent their work teams to the rural areas chosen astrial sites for reform. In June 1959, they started to press ahead with the ¡°Three Against and Two Reduction¡± movement. The government declared by official order that home slaves should be emancipated and the treatment of persons as chattels of serf owners be abolished before the movement for reduction of rent and interest charges was carried out. The serf owners who were not involved in the rebellion could keep 20 percent of their farm products, and give the remaining 80 percent to the ex-serfs. As for reduction of interest, all the debts of laboring people to the three estate-holders prior to 1958 were canceled. The debts loaned by serf owners who did not take part in the rebellion to laboring people in 1959 would all be calculated at an interest rate of one cent per month.
During the ¡°Three Against and Two Reduction¡± movement, work team members went deep into the Tibetans and mobilized them to ferret out hidden rebels. Cadres of the work teams lived and worked together with poor serfs and learnt about their sufferings and demands. They identified and nurtured core members of reform, and held meetings for the masses to pour out their woes and denounce the rebels?criminal acts of sabotaging the unification of motherland and national unity, opposing the Democratic Reform and persecuting their fellow villagers. The poverty-stricken Tibetans were encouraged to talk about their bitterness at being exploited and oppressed by the serf owners, thus reducing the latter's courage and boosting the farmer's political advantage. Peasants?associations, composed mainly of ex-serfs, were set up through vote as mass organizations leading local peasants to distribute land and develop production.
The following is an example of how the movement was carried out in a specific place.
Kesong Manor in Nedong County belonged to Soikang, a big serf owner and rebel chief. It was chosen by the Shannan branch of the Tibet Work Committee for the first trial of the ¡°Three Against and Two Reduction¡± movement.
The work team held the meeting of serfs on June 6, 1959 to elect their peasants?association. Team cadres said: ¡°Soikang escaped during the rebellion and the man who oppressed us has collapsed. Today, we will select our own leader to help us stand up and set up our own organization?the peasants?association.¡± After announcing the candidates list everyone had deliberated, the ex-serfs, for the first time in their lives, democratically selected their own leader---director Nyima Cering, born into a house slave.
Nyima Cering, who never dared to raise his head before his master in the past, said: ¡°Fellow villagers, we have been emancipated under the leadership of Chairman Mao and the CPC. As the director of the association, I will perform my duties well. I hope we will unite as one family and one person. Only by eliminating the rebels will we be able to live a happy life.¡± His remark drew warm applause.
That evening, the newly-elected peasants?association held its first meeting. They discussed how to deal with Gengbo and Puncog Zhamdu, who had served Soikang faithfully for many years. They had indulged in all sorts of evildoing and kicked and whipped serfs whenever they slowed down in their work. During the several months when the rebel forces were entrenched in the manor, Gengbo pressed people for grain and grass and beat them frequently. Puncog Zhamdu took a sub-chief of the rebel forces to a serf's house, where they shut up the senile parents and the sub-chief raped their young daughter. U'gyain, a member of the association, said: ¡°The two did too many bad things. Now, they are in our hands. How would you like to deal with them, killing them or cutting off their legs and hands?¡± Nyima suggested: ¡°Let's have a rally and bring them here. Those who have woes can pour them out, and those who have been bullied can vent their spleen. Then the two men will be punished by being put to long-time hard work.¡± Everybody present, including U'gyain, agreed to this.
After preparation, Kesong Township held the mass rally to denounce the rebels and local despots. Nyima was the first to speak: ¡°In the past Soikang and Gengbo lived on top of us and trod us underfoot. Now, we have stood up and can hold such a meeting to denounce bad persons.¡± U'gyain followed: ¡°Today, we will denounce Puncog and Gengbo. In the past, we dared not pour out our sufferings and bitterness. Now we are free. Puncog and Gengbo helped rebels to rob us. When the rebel forces escaped, they helped them hide boxes of ammunition in the grass, and carried valuables and grains in the warehouses, which were our blood and sweat, to their own houses.¡±
The masses started to take the floor. An old lady stood up to expose their crime: ¡°They kept many rifles and intended to have the reactionaries return.¡± Baima Yuzhoin, an unkempt 13-year-old orphan, stood up and said while crying that her father was a poor tralpa slave who died while doing corvee work outside the village for the serf owner. Ever since she was a child, her mother had to do corvee work carrying her on the back. Once her mother had a row with Puncog while cutting grass. Puncog beat her mother, who crawled back home bleeding and died the next day. Baima Yuzhoin's white-haired grandmother, with tears running down her emaciated face and anger in her eyes, wailed bitterly: ¡°What shall we do, fellow villagers? My two granddaughters have no mother now. Their mother has been eaten by the two beasts---Soikang and Puncog.¡± Everybody tearfully shouted slogans: ¡°Down with the evil feudal serfdom!¡± ¡°liminate exploitation and oppression!¡± It was agreed upon before the meeting was held that they would reason things out rather than resort to force, and no weapons like iron-ware or sticks could be brought. But U'gyain took out a stick unexpectedly from her bosom and hit the back of Puncog as he knelt on the ground. As he was hit, he made use of the momentum to fall ahead. His nose hit the ground and started to bleed. Someone encouraged U'gyain: ¡°Good, beat him to death!¡± But others were not in favor of beating. Nyima pulled U'gyain aside and asked everybody to continue the denunciation. The furor went on for a long time.
Such situation could be seen in every rural area across the region. The mushrooming peasants?associations enjoyed every right. The reactionary serf owners, who had ridden roughshod over slaves, were swept into the dust in front of the masses, bowed their heads and confessed their guilt. The work team made allowance for serf owners who did not take part in the rebellion by having them denounced in their absence. The serfs and slaves were elated and proud to be the masters of their own affairs. The situation in rural areas altered completely.
The movement proceeded smoothly. Statistics of the five branch work committees in Shannan, Tagong, Gyangze, Lhasa and Xigaze revealed that in areas where the movement was carried on, a total of 8.5 million ke of highland barley in usury (one ke of highland barley equal to 14 kg) were cancelled, and 26,000 ke of grains converted from interest were reduced. About 20,000 nangzen slaves made their homes and received a total of 180,000 ke of grains. The per-capita grain for serfs was 700 kg.
In September 1959, the Tibet Work Committee thought it was the right time to carry out the second step of the Democratic Reform---the land distribution. After all-round investigation and research and consultation with upper-class patriots, it formulated the Draft Scheme on Land System Reform in the Tibetan Areas and the Detailed Methods on Carrying Out Buying-Out Policies. Initial accounting revealed that about 26.8 percent of the noblemen and big and small headmen, 55 percent of the monasteries, and 70 percent of the serf owner agents did not take part in the rebellion. The total volume of means of production purchased from them reached 60 million yuan.
The buying-out policy clearly proved that the CPC had abided by the policy of peaceful reform in Tibet. In fact, Tibet was the only place where the buying-out policy was adopted to eliminate feudal exploitation.
In the autumn and winter of 1959, agricultural areas in Tibet, which had successfully undergone the ¡°Three Against and Two Reduction¡± movement, entered the stage of land distribution.
Through mobilization, serfs in every place in Tibet realized that the system where serf owners occupied land constituted the root cause of their long sufferings. To be completely emancipated, such a system must be abolished and land allocated to peasants themselves. Land allocation appraisal groups, made up of cadres of the peasants?associations, differentiated among serf owners who participated in the rebellion and those who did not, after making a thorough investigation of the farmland. They confiscated the land and other means of production of serf owners who were involved in the rebellion, and allocated one lot to their families to let them earn their own living. They made allowances for those serf owners who didn't take part in the rebellion, leaving them one lot of land and other means of production before buying out the rest, and then allocated the confiscated and bought land and means of production to farming households, trying to satisfy the demands of poor serfs and slaves. The middle-class serfs (including well-to-do) could keep the original land they tilled for serf owners. Some well-to-do, whose original farmlands were twice the per-capita holdings of local people, would have some of the land assigned to others as a kind of adjustment after consultation.
Now let's look at how Kesong Township in Nedong County, the first to undergo land distribution, carried out the policy.
On July 29, 1959, the township peasants?association discussed concrete measures to allocate land and selected Kado Village as the number one place to start.
The members of the association and land allocation group arrived at Kado early on July 30. Male and female peasants came along in succession. At the edge of a field, an old man said: ¡°In light of local conditions, if eight ke (15 ke equal to one hectare) of land were distributed, five should be of good quality and three of poor quality.¡± Everybody agreed and they started allocating land. Cering Comu was allocated two ke of well-watered fields. She was so excited that she ran to look at her fields with her baby on her back more than once. Grandma Soinam Qoinzong was assigned a piece of good fallow land. She immediately carried clay bricks and stones to pile them up as a mark. She said to others: ¡°We had no land for generations. But today we have our own land.¡± Chago, a widow, said: ¡°I used to take my child and engage in temporary job, or go begging with baby on my back. Now I have land. I no longer need to worry about food.¡± The peasants?association also called the people allocated land to a meeting and solicited their opinions till very late at night.
On July 31, the next day, the allocation of land went on. Baima Coma, a serf, said: ¡°In the past I did not have even a piece of land as small as the bridge of a bull nose. My husband was told the news of land allocation yesterday evening. He rose early this morning and went to the pigsty to prepare compost, because when we have land of our own, we will have a harvest of our own.¡±
On August 3, Kesong Township started to assign animals. A total of 15 milk cows and young bulls were driven to the site. Degyai, a nangzen slave, was the first to get a young cow. Everybody clapped and cheered for him. Grandma Qimei Como, who had fed cattle for manorial lords of two generations, was allowed to choose a best cow. She picked up a pregnant cow, and said: ¡°I used to have nothing, not even a piece of land as big as a finger. Now I have house, land and animals. If I work hard, there is nothing I need to worry about.¡±
Horses and mules were also distributed. As for the 180 sheep in the manor, the peasants?association suggested keeping them as public property because it was not easy to raise one or two in each family. They would be tended by the original shepherd, whose land would be tilled by others.
Land distribution across the region went on smoothly. By the end of 1959, altogether 57 counties with a total population of 740,000 had undergone the Democratic Reform. Of them, 32 counties with a total population of 430,000 had accomplished land distribution. A 60-year-old grandma in Dagze County started to dance when she was allocated land. She cried when other people around applauded for her. Some emancipated serfs were so excited they rolled on the ground. In those days, laboring people in Tibet could not refrain from showing excitement. They often sang and danced far into the night, or even all night.
B. Democratic Reform in Pastoral Areas.
Laboring people in Tibet's pastoral areas have the same strong demand for the Democratic Reform. But things varied from that in the agricultural areas. The biggest difference was that, in pastoral areas, livestock was the herdsmen's means of production and means of livelihood as well, and could be butchered. The slaughter of large amount of cattle and sheep would go against the aim of emancipating productive forces, promoting production and improving people's living standard. Therefore, the CPC adopted a policy of protecting and developing livestock in pastoral areas. In addition, as the major means of production, serf owners only possessed 25-30 percent, while herdsmen and livestock-owners held 70-75 percent. Livestock-owners, taking up only 1 percent of total households, owned 20 percent of the animals. Many poor serfs had a few animals of their own. Some livestock-owners worked themselves, but at the same time employed other herdsmen or leased animals to them. They exploited the herdsmen and hired herdsmen while being exploited slightly by serf owners. Except animals forcibly claimed by serf owners, the operation of other livestock involved dispersed production by individual and private herding sections. It was a capitalistic characteristic for livestock-owners to hire herdsmen. So, livestock-owners were different from serf owners and could be untied. If denunciation was held and cattle and sheep were distributed during the Democratic Reform in pastoral areas, livestock-owners would engage in indiscriminate slaughter of animals. So, ways like allocating means of production applied in agricultural areas couldn't be used in pastoral areas.
Taking these factors into consideration, the CPC adopted more stable general policies for the Democratic Reform in pastoral areas. The ownership of means of production would remain unchanged, except that animals of serf owners and livestock-owners who participated in the rebellion were confiscated and distributed to the shepherds and poor herdsmen (families of the rebels were given animals equal to ordinary level of local herdsmen according to the number of their family members). Generally no denunciation, no distribution of livestock and no open division of class were conducted in the pastoral areas.
On September 1,1959, the Tibet Work Committee issued an instruction, emphasizing the long-term central task to protect livestock and pastureland and stipulating the major task to fully mobilize the masses, completely put down riots and start the ¡°Three Against and Two Reduction¡± movement during the Democratic Reform in pastoral areas.
During the movement, the special rights of the three big estate-holders, including corvees, forceful occupation of pastureland and treatment of persons as chattels, had to be abolished. the old system of leasing animals was transformed, with the rent negotiated between and set by herdsmen and livestock-owners largely according to the ratio of rent reduction in farming areas with 80 percent of the farm produce going to the tillers and 20 percent to the manorial lords, forming a new and rational leasing system in pastoral areas. The herdsmen and livestock owners should sign mutually-beneficial contracts. The livestock-owners could not treat herdsmen with cruelty. They were equal in terms of law. The livestock-owners had no right to dismiss herdsmen, who could not quit without good reason during the term of their contracts. In addition, the livestock-owners must promise to improve the treatment of herdsmen, who, in turn, had to promise to attentively raise the livestock.
These lines and policies guaranteed sound and smooth implementation of the Democratic Reform in Tibet's pastoral areas.
The ¡°Three Against and Two Reduction¡± movement unfolded gradually in every pastoral area in the latter half of 1959. Cadres of the work teams lived and grazed animals together with herdsmen, talked with them heart to heart and learnt about the rebels?criminal act in damaging the pastoral areas.
Armed rebel forces had wreaked serious havoc in pastoral areas. They robbed about half the cattle and sheep in some tribes in Nagqu County. They seized 22,000 head of cattle and 22,000 head of sheep among the total 24,000 head of cattle and 26,000 sheep in a tribe in Amdo County, causing great difficulties in their production and living. Work team members widely publicized the working lines and policies in the pastoral areas, conscientiously mobilized the herdsmen to distinguish between the bad and the good, ferret out rebels, seize guns and expose serf owners?exploitation and oppressive acts, and stabilize the life of herdsmen and protect animals from being wantonly slaughtered. On this basis, the work teams confiscated the animals of serf owners and livestock-owners involved in the rebellion and practiced the policy of ¡°animals to the shepherds,¡± allocating livestock seized from the rebels to poor herdsmen. Meanwhile, they implemented the policy of no denunciation, no allocation of animals and no division of class, making those livestock-owners who did not take part in the rebellion feel at ease to engage in production. Following this, the poor and hired herdsmen were instructed to sign mutually-beneficial agreements with livestock-owners. As a result, the livestock-owners felt satisfied and believed in the CPC's policy while the herdsmen were willing to develop animal industry. Livestock-owners in Nagqu said: ¡°So long as they do not allocate our cattle and sheep, we are willing to do everything we are told.¡±
Sangxung pastoral area in Nagqu County started to undergo the movement in April 1960. With help from the work team, every township elected the herdsmen's associations, whose core members were all hired and poor herdsmen who were oppressed and enslaved greatly in the past. These associations assumed the functions and powers of government at township level. Upon their establishment, the former tribal headmen went to their local association politely, according to the rules, if they needed help, and obeyed those people who had once been trodden underfoot.
Herdsmen's associations gathered herdsmen in Sangxung together to expose the guilt of Weise Namgyai, a serf owner agent and a rebel, and pour out the bitterness they had suffered for generations. Following this, they confiscated the cattle and sheep of the serf owner and livestock-owners who participated in the rebellion and assigned them to poor herdsmen and hired herdsmen. In Golug, they confiscated a total of 6,217 head of cattle, 1,417 sheep, 26 goats and six horses. Except that the six horses were saved for the Golug as collective property, other animals were all distributed among poor and hired herdsmen. These herdsmen, who had no cattle and sheep or little livestock, said excitedly: ¡°Now we all have black and white animals (black animals referred to yak and white to sheep).¡± Zhaxi Puncog, a hired herdsman who used to work for Weise Namgyai and had no cattle and sheep, was given 16 head of cattle and 35 sheep; Danzin was allocated 20 head of cattle and 45 sheep; Baima Caita got 20 head of cattle and 45 head of sheep; Qiongdan Doje received 16 head of cattle and 35 head of sheep. Besides, every household was assigned a tent and a set of simple furniture and some clothes and food.
These hired herdsmen, poor as church mice in the past, could not even afford to marry. Now, with their new property, they could afford to do so. Danzin and Baima married soon after.
With the enhancement of political status, the hired herdsmen gained an economic guarantee. They enjoyed an annual wage which was divided into three classes according to work done: 180 yuan, 150 yuan and 100 yuan. They said:
¡°In the past we ate and put on what the masters gave us. We did our utmost to work hard with an empty stomach and thin clothes but had to worry about being scolded. We never had a day off even if it rained or snowed, but went on day by day, year in and year out, never daring to dream of sleeping one night inside a tent. We were a human being during the day and a dog at night. Sometimes we felt so sad we even thought of suicide. Now we have our own tents over us and our own property at home, with our own sheep and cattle grazing in front. We own a debt of gratitude to the CPC which we shall never be able to repay.¡±
The movement proceeded smoothly across the whole pastoral areas, with a total population of 280,000. In the first half of 1961, the movement had been carried on in areas with a total population of 250,000, and accomplished in areas with a population of 210,000. Sonorous songs of herdsmen to celebrate their new-born lives echoed across the vast northern Tibet grasslands.
Implementing the buying-out policy constituted an important part in carrying out peaceful reform and continuously uniting the upper class. By March 1961, Tibet had handled buying-out formalities for 900,000 ke of land (15 ke equal to one hectare) and 820,000 head of livestock of some 1,300 households of serf owners and their agents who did not take part in the rebellion, and officially granted them certificates. The Central Government spent a total of 45 million yuan for the purchase. People who received certificates included Ngapoi Ngawang Jigmei, deputy director and secretary-general of the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Namdain Gongya Wangqug and Sangpo Cewang Renzin, vice-chairmen of the CPPCC Tibet Committee, and Ceke Toinzhol Cering, mayor of Lhasa. In Xigaze, when the State Government institutions presented a buying-out certificate worth 5.92 million yuan and buying-out currency of 453,000 yuan to the Tashilhungpo Monastery, it was warmly welcome by people from all walks of life.
In a word, the Democratic Reform in Tibet was not only eagerly expected, demanded on their own initiative, participated in spontaneously and supported wholeheartedly by the broad masses of serfs, but also favored, backed up and supported by upper-class patriots. The great and just movement received support not only from the masses but also upper-class patriots. The political leadership of the CPC, manifested through publicity, mobilization and formulation of lines and policies which were regarded as the external factor, played a big role in the Democratic Reform. But the decisive factor was the Tibetan people's long-standing reform desire and the support from the upper-class. Without it, the Democratic Reform would not have started and made achievements.
The Democratic Reform was imperative and correct, as was soon revealed. The initiative of emancipated peasants and herdsmen reached an unprecedented high. In 1959, the first year of reform, the gross grain production in Tibet increased by 4.8 percent from the previous year. In 1960, it rose by 12.6 percent, and the amount of livestock rose 10 percent.
The Tibet Plateau witnessed epoch-making changes.
Let's have a look at Lhasa:
In the past, emaciated serfs and slaves would prostrate themselves before their masters to beg them to extend their debt terms. Now, debt collectors sent by their masters asked them in a low voice about repayment. They would leave quietly when the former serfs told them to wait.
Old nangzen slaves, young girls and even children used to groan under the whips of the masters and lords. Now walking out of the red lacquered gates, they said boldly to their masters: ¡°We are free. We are no longer cattle and sheep serving you. There is now warmth in the world.¡± A 108-year-old man in Lhasa used to crawl along the roadside to beg. Now, the neighborhood committee found him a house, gave him food and buttered tea and sent for a doctor when he was ill. The faltering old man cried: ¡°Am I dreaming?¡±
All these changes stemmed from the victory over rebellion and the conducting of the Democratic Reform. For the first time, the laboring people acquired human rights politically to be the masters of their own affairs and human rights economically for subsistence and development. This is the maximum human rights in Tibet. The Tibetan people, enjoying the human rights for the first time, expressed their heartfelt happiness through new songs:
Himalayas are high enough, but have a summit.
Yarlung Zangbo River is long enough, but has its source.
Tibetan people suffered enough, but saw daylight. The bitter turned into the sweet after the CPC came!
The CPC and the Central Government openly admitted that they instituted a kind of dictatorship---the people's democratic dictatorship. Those parties and personages, who talked glibly about ¡°human rights, democracy and freedom¡± as if they have never practiced dictatorship, were not so honest.
Almost all modern capitalist countries in the world have exercised dictatorship over the proletariat, the laboring class and their colonies. This is common. In old China, it was the landlords and bureaucratic bourgeoisie who exercised dictatorship over the broad masses of Chinese people. How many people died under the butcher's knives of Kuomintang regime and groaned in the prisons of this political power? The Gaxag government was a local political power in old China and a power of serf owners practising dictatorship over the serfs.
With the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the old ruling class collapsed. The roles of dictator and people under dictatorship were reversed and a new political pattern of people's democratic dictatorship emerged. Take the example of Tibet after the rebellion was crushed and the Democratic Reform began. The democracy was initiated for Tibetan people who accounted for 95 percent of the total population, while the dictatorship was exercised on the reactionary elements on the upper ruling class and chief rebels who made up only 5 percent of the total population. These few people were only allowed to behave themselves and were prohibited from speaking and taking actions randomly, otherwise they would be punished. This policy was carried out in the past and would continue in the future, because if we did not do so, revolution in Tibet would fail and people there would suffer again.
The logic of Van Praag on human rights is that it was not violation of human rights when the few reactionaries on the upper ruling class severely exploited, oppressed and practiced dictatorship against the serfs; but it was a violation of human rights when emancipated serfs exercised a necessary dictatorship over the few reactionaries on the upper ruling class to protect their newly-acquired rights for subsistence and development, and for becoming masters of their own affairs. Who could accept such a logic?
We hold a different view on human rights from Van Praag. We care much about the issue of human rights and are willing to discuss it with anyone on equal terms. But if someone, appearing as a human rights hegemon insisting that ¡°only I speak of human rights...you are the one who violates human rights¡± tried to interfere in China's internal affairs, the Chinese people, including Tibetans, will not listen.
New China exercised dictatorship on reactionaries but would not eliminate all of them physically. With the exception of a few who had committed the most serious crimes, every means would be tried to remold them into a new type of person. We did just this in Tibet. Many rebel chiefs, or key rebels, after studying and being remolded during imprisonment and under the huge influence of the Democratic Reform and social progress, gradually followed up with the steps of historical progress. According to their attitudes of confessing their crime and other behavior, the people's government released them as soon as possible, and arranged work and accommodation for them. They included Tubdain Dainda and Kana who were released in 1964, Lhalu and Soindo, who were set free in 1965, as well as a number of officials of the former Tibetan government and local powerful persons who were set free in 1978, including Xoikuba and Dundui Qiuying. They felt lucky to be able to live a new life and make contribution to the construction of new Tibet. Many of them, like Xoikuba, went abroad to reunite with their families. Their words revealing their gratitude towards the CPC were touching. Lhalu, in his book Recalling the Road I Took, talked about many of his experiences: He was met and instructed by Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai when he led a Tibetan delegation to Beijing in 1955; how he was misguided to participate in the 1959 armed rebellion; how he was denounced at a 10,000-people mass rally in Lhasa in 1959 after he was arrested, and how the PLA soldiers protected him from being beaten at the mass rally; finally, his repentance during his imprisonment. He took up farming after he was set free on special amnesty on August 31, 1965, was given a job in 1977, and became vice-chairman of the CPPCC Tibet Committee in 1983. He was so excited that he shed tears when he met Li Weihan at the CPC United Front Work Department in Beijing. He wrote in the end: ¡°I am 70 years old now. My whole life was full of hardships. Looking back on Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou's kind instructions, thinking of my own behavior in the old society, particularly during the rebellion, I felt deeply guilty. I am determined to work hard for the people, for the unification of the motherland, for building a united, prosperous and civilized new Tibet in the remaining years of my life to make up my past crimes. (Lhalu Cewang Doje: Recalling the Road I took, Vol.3, Chinese edition, pp.11-24, Tibetan edition, pp.26-49 Selected Materials on the History of Tibet) Lhalu became a different person. He is now working for what he promised.
Other people like Tubdain Dainda and Kana were well remolded and later did a lot of work conducive to the construction of new Tibet till they died.
Therefore, the people's democratic dictatorship New China instituted was the most humanistic. New China was recognized internationally as one of the countries which best remolded its criminals. Making those who had committed crimes against people and who had been imprisoned come back to the people and acquire human rights again was a unique and good way to correctly safeguard the human rights.
Xagabba and Van Praag mount attacks on New China who most extensively and distinctively safeguards human rights, but never condemn the former Tibetan government and armed rebels who barbarously and brutally violated the human rights of the Tibetan people. They look with hatred on the facts that the Tibetan people, who made up 95 percent of region's population, are emancipated and have acquired ultimate human rights. But, they back the reactionary serf owners, who made up only 5 percent of the total population and infringed the human rights of the broad masses of serfs, and encourage them to engage in restorationist activities. All these elements demonstrate that they have never been real defenders, but rather tramplers on human rights. They encourage violation of the human rights under the guise of human rights.