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From: Xinhua 2010-03-29 11:25:00
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Tibetans enjoy human development

Despite the objection by his family, Lhadrup, a 69-year-old Tibetan man, climbed up a ladder and hang a five-star national flag onto the roof of his house on the morning of March 26, to greet the second Serfs Emancipation Day which falls on March 28.

"I've always dreamed the scene in which those serfs beaten to death by their owners before the liberation in 1959 could have become the masters of their own destiny and lived happily with hope like me today," said Lhadrup, a pioneer leading other villagers in becoming prosperous in Kelsong Village, Nedong County, southeastern Tibet's Shannan Prefecture.

Kelsong is Tibet's first village to carry out the democratic reform in 1959.

Let's review the scene of Tibet's capital of Lhasa in 1958, when Kelsang Yeshe, an orphaned serf, was ten years old.

In spite of the scorching sun, a crowd of beggars with dirty naked upper bodies picked louse for one another. A dozen or so bony members of a family had to be squeezed into a tiny tent. Others even slept in an open air in the street. Lying not far from these ragged tents were luxurious houses of Tibetan nobles.

"At that time, we had nothing but numerous exorbitant taxes and levies," Kelsang, now the head of the Ancient Books Research Institute of Tibet's Academy of Social Sciences, said while recalling his childhood.

"We had labored strenuously from generation to generation for feudal lords (senior lamas, nobles and officials) but struggled for survival and food all year round," he said, adding that "Under these circumstances, we had to manage to live on, not to mention human development,"

In old Tibet, serfs were called "animals that can speak." Stipulated on the code was that the life of an underdog equaled a straw rope.

Cruel punishments, such as whipping, eye-gorging, leg-chopping and arm-cutting, instruments of torture, human skulls and skins -- exhibition in museums has reminded the visitors of the ghastly and bloody atmosphere.

Treated as private property, serfs could be used for gambling, debt-repayment or be traded, transferred and presented. Their children were serfs, too, and such identity could not be changed for generations.

In the 1950s, Tibetans' average life expectancy was only 35.5 and the infant mortality rate hit as high as 43 percent.

Since China initiated the reform and opening-up drive in 1979, China's Central Government has spent 1.8 billion yuan (2.64 million U.S. dollars) improving medical and health care in Tibet and allotted an annual medical subsidy of at least 20 million yuan for rural residents.

Today, Tibet's average life expectancy has risen to 67 and the infant mortality rate plummeted to 2.11 percent.

A plan to promote health of Tibet's farmers and herders was implemented at the end of 2009, aiming to raise the regional average life expectancy to 68 in six years.

Having been distributed land and won freedom by breaking the shackles of serfdom, Tibetan people now enjoy fully the right to subsistence and development.

On May 25, 1960, Tibetan mountaineer Gongbo became the world's first in scaling Mt. Qomolangma on the northern slope. In the summer of 2007, the Tibet Climbing Team also became the first in the world to ascend to atop 14 peaks towering more than 8,000 m.

 In January, Padma Choling, 58, was elected the new chairman of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Born into a serf family, Padma has become the eighth Tibetan Regional Government chairman since the establishment of the TAR in 1965.

According to statistics by the end of last year, 70.42 percent of officials in Tibet were Tibetans and other ethnic groups, including senior Tibetan officials such as chairman of the Standing Committee of the Regional People's Congress, chairman of the Regional Government and head of the Regional Higher People's Court.

As China launched its opening-up drive, more and more Tibetans began to introduce their splendid culture to the public.

Norgyi Purqunggyai, a 39-year-old newspaper editor, is famous for translating "Harry Potter" into the Tibetan language.

"I'm so glad that with my efforts, our Tibetan children have accesse to that globally-known 'magic world' in their own language," the man said.

"Almost all Tibetans are born music and dance lovers. We feel extremely happy when singing and dancing. Now we are making money in happiness and enjoy making money," said a 36-year-old rural Tibetan performer Purjung.

[editor : ]
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