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Full text: Democratic Reform in Tibet -- Sixty Years On
update:March 28,2019

– Serfs exploited by exorbitant taxes and levies
In old Tibet, the three major estate-holders possessed almost all means of production. They burdened their serfs with inhumane taxes and levies. The Kashag regime alone imposed some 200 different taxes. Serfs had to borrow money to survive, and more than 90 percent of serfs were in debt. Serfs were burdened with all kinds of debts such as debts passed down from previous generations, new debts, debts resulting from joint liability, and debts apportioned among all the serfs. The debts that were passed down from previous generations and could never be repaid even by succeeding generations accounted for one third of the total debts. There was a widespread ballad that described the debts that bound serfs:
The debts owed by the grandpa of my grandpa
Could not be paid off by the father of my father,
And the son of my son
Will not be able to repay even the interest.

According to statistics collated in 1959-60, during Tibet’s democratic reform usurious loans of 236,600 tons of grain and 700 million liang of Tibetan silver were written off. The loans written off during democratic reform surpassed the entire 175,000-ton grain output of the whole of Tibet in 1958.

– Strict mind control in the name of religion
The three major estate-holders exercised mind control over serfs so that they accepted their fate in the hope of entering the “Elysium” after they died and obtaining “happiness in the next life”. In Tibetan Travel Notes (Chibetto Taizaiki), a Japanese monk named Tokan Tada, who entered Tibet in 1913, wrote: “The Tibetans are very religious. They are convinced of their sins, and believe that the Dalai Lama’s heavy taxes are a means of redemption. They also believe in happiness in the next life if their sins are cleansed in this life.”

In “Abolishing the Feudal Privileges and Exploitation in Tibetan Lamaist Monasteries”, well-known Tibetologists Wang Sen and Wang Furen wrote: “From 1958 to the spring of 1959, one chapel in the western suburbs of Lhasa, for the purpose of prayer, asked for 27 human heads, six skulls, four leg bones, one full human skin, one corpse, 14 bundles of intestines, eight chunks of human flesh, and nine bottles of human blood.”

After presiding over the enthronement ceremony of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1940, Wu Zhongxin, chief of the Commission for Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs of the National Government, described the situation in old Tibet in his “Report on Tibetan Affairs on a Mission”: “People of all classes and ranks believe they are destined to belong to a certain class or rank from the previous life, and they are accustomed to it. Even those in the lowest rank are content with the status quo.” Monopolizing the spiritual and cultural life of the Tibetan people, the three major estate-holders attacked as heresy any idea or culture that ran contrary to their interests. The Tibetan scholar Gedun Chophel, who exposed the corruption and degeneracy of monks and advocated reform in Tibetan Buddhism, was imprisoned and persecuted by the Kashag government.
II. Irresistible Historical Trend
Serfdom is the most brutal form of slavery in feudal society. It is a barbaric and backward social system in terms of economic development, political democracy or human rights protection. By the 1950s, the very existence of feudal serfdom had violated the development trend of human history. Such a system was a stain on civilization and was destined to be eradicated by history.
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