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From: China Daily 2011-05-26 09:17:00
by: Lian Xiangmin
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Tibet's path to democracy

Freedom from feudal autocracy means everyone in the region enjoys equal rights and shares self-governance

The peaceful liberation of Tibet 60 years ago marked a historic turning point as it ended the millenniums-long feudal autocracy and opened the door to a new epoch for the region.

Until its peaceful emancipation in 1951, Tibet was a typical feudal hierarchical society in which people were divided by its 13-Article and 16-Article codes into three classes and nine ranks. The two statutes stipulated that different people enjoyed a different status.

Tibet was a politico-religious feudal serfdom in which the serf-owning stratum of society, which comprised upper-level monks and priests and secular aristocrats, comprised only 5 percent of the region's population. This powerful minority controlled all of the land and resources. The serfs were deprived of any means of production and denied their freedom and political rights.

On May 23, 1951, the Chinese central government signed an accord with Tibet's local government on the latter's peaceful liberation, explicitly stipulating and guaranteeing Tibetan people's right to self-autonomy under the leadership of the central government.

However, a fierce confrontation erupted between Tibet's upper-class serf owners and the Tibetan people over whether the region should reform its politico-religious feudal serfdom after 1956. To maintain the old system intact, some serf owners plotted an all-out armed revolt in March 1959. After the failed rebellion, the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India and established a so-called government in exile with the promulgation of a pseudo constitution.

Tibetan people after 1959 carried out a series of sweeping democratic reforms aimed at smashing the past autocratic regime, separating religion from politics and extricating all serfs from dependence on serf owners.

The formation of an all-inclusive electorate political system at various levels of local government symbolized the birth of democratic politics in the region. By 1961 a total of 283 district-level and 1,009 township-level local governments had been set up via people's elections.

On Aug 25, 1964, the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, approved the State Council's proposal of setting up the Tibet autonomous region. In September the same year, the first session of the Tibetan people's congress was held in Lhasa, symbolizing the formal establishment of the autonomous region.

[editor : ]
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