OTTAWA, March 23 (Xinhua) -- A Tibetan living Buddha on Monday compared the emancipation of serfs in Tibet 50 years ago to the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1862, saying the two are of similar significance.
"They are both milestones in the history of human rights," Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, a living Buddha of the Kagyu sect, said when meeting with Peter Milliken, speaker of the Canadian House of Commons.
The Tibetan Autonomous Region People's Congress, the regional legislature, endorsed a bill on Jan. 19, 2009 to designate March 28 as an annual Serfs Emancipation Day, to mark the date on which about 1 million serfs in the region were freed 50 years ago.
Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, who is also vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region People's Congress, said serfs and slaves accounted for about 95 percent of the total population in Tibet before 1959. "They possessed no means of production or personal freedom, not to mention other basic human rights," he said.
Serfs were seen as the private property of landowners, mostly the nobles, monasteries and government officials, according to historical records. Landowners could legally insult, punish, buy and sell, whip, and even brutally kill their serfs.
On March 28, 1959, the Chinese central government announced it would dissolve the aristocratic local government of Tibet and replace it with a preparatory committee for establishing the Tibet Autonomous Region.
That meant the end of serfdom and the abolition of the hierarchic social system characterized by theocracy, with the Dalai Lama as the core of the leadership.
The move came after the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters, most of whom were slave owners attempting to maintain serfdom.
"By setting the Serfs Emancipation Day, we hope that history will not be forgotten," Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak said.
Milliken said the Canadian House of Commons hopes to improve exchanges with the Chinese parliament and help improve relations between Canada and China.
He also said that Canada and China share broad interests and the current global economic recession makes cooperation and exchanges between the two countries even more important.
Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak is leading a five-member delegation of Tibetan deputies of the National People's Congress, China's parliament, in Canada for a visit.
On Monday, the delegation also met with Ken Sunquist, Assistant Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada,and held talks with members of the Canadian House of Commons and Senate.
Signed article by former official in old Tibet hails Serfs Emancipation Day
BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- An article signed by a 99-year-old former official in the old Tibet praises Serfs Emancipation Day which falls on March 28.
The article written by Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme, once a Galoin (cabinet minister) of the former local government of Tibet, will be published in the People's Daily Tuesday.
Setting of Serfs Emancipation Day major move to fight Dalai clique
BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The setting of Serfs Emancipation Day is an important move to wage a "tit-for-tat struggle" against the Dalai clique, a senior Tibetan legislator said here Friday.
"We'll, for a long period of time, face austere test in maintaining unification of the motherland, fighting ethnic splittism, and maintaining social stability," said Legqog, director of the Standing Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Regional People's Congress, on the sidelines of the annual national parliament session in Beijing.
New insignia mark Serfs Emancipation Day, 50th anniversary of Tibet reform
LHASA, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Tibet will distribute two sets of insignia to mark Serfs Emancipation Day -- which falls on March 28-- and the 50th anniversary of democratic reform, the region's Communist Party office said Friday.
The designs have been finalized, the public affairs department of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China said. Full story
Grand celebrations to be held on Serfs Emancipation Day
BEIJING, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Grand celebrations will be held on March 28 to mark Serfs Emancipation Day in Lhasa and Beijing, Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet regional government, said on Thursday.
The setting of Serfs Emancipation Day is welcomed in Tibet, where 95 percent of its population were slaves and serfs before the democratic reform annulled serfdom in 1959 in the Himalaya region, he told reporters on the sidelines of the parliament session that started Thursday morning.