Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Serf Emancipation Day

Today, life in the province of Tibet continues with some changes and with some continued traditions. The history of China is long, and hidden from most of us due to the simple fact that we do not read Chinese, nor do we really care. Since the people of China rose up in rebellion against the feudal dynastic system, starting in 1911, there has been a constabnt struggle for New Democracy against the aristocratic and priveliged elite. This story is about bringing change to Tibet, now called the Tibet Atonomous Region, or TAR.

Here is one man's story...

Ngulho Buchung never expected to become a general when he was young.

He was born in the fall of 1959 in a village in Nylam County in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. His family had been serfs for generations until March 1959, when one million serfs in the region were freed.

In January 2009, the regional legislative body decided to designate March 28 as the annual Serfs Emancipation Day to commemorate the end of feudal serfdom in Tibet. For the first time, Ngulho Buchung's family was able to own land, livestock and their own house.

"If there were no emancipation, I might have refused to be born," he said jokingly with a laugh.

According to his mother, his family had to serve food to rebel forces that passed by as they fled after the rebellion on March 10 that year, he said.

"They stole food and even harmed villagers. The People's Liberation Army (PLA), on the other hand, never set foot in our houses, my mom told me. The soldiers just slept in cow sheds while chasing the rebels, and even offered their clothes to villagers during cold days," he said.

Attracted by his mother's stories, Ngulho Buchung wanted to become a soldier. His wish came true in 1975 when he became a member of the Tibetan armed police.

His toughness and diligence led him to become a sharp shooter, a keen detective, and a martial arts champion in the region. He learned Mandarin, calligraphy and even poems from comrades in arms. He later entered the college of armed police forces with a high score.

In 2008, when he was a high-ranking officer in charge of Tibet's border control, his team accepted the task of guarding the Olympic torch as it was carried to the top of Mt. Qomolangma.

For a man who received surgery on one of his knees, it was not easy to climb the mountain, reaching an altitude up to 6,500 meters above sea level.

"It was a huge task. I couldn't help repeating it in my dreams every night during that time," he said. Every morning on the mountain, he had to heat his frozen shoes for half an hour before he could put them on, taking the risk of avalanches while marching.

After guarding the torch to the mountaintop, Wu Yingjie, executive vice chairman of Tibet's regional government, called to congratulate him.

"Both of us shed tears over the phone," he said, "maybe because of too much pressure."

In July 2008, Ngulho Buchung was promoted to major general in the armed police.

"I'm a beneficiary of the PLA. Guarding my motherland makes me energetic, anywhere, at any time," he said.

There seems to be quite a difference between the stories told by the emancipated serfs living in Tibet and the CIA aided and supported Dalai lama and his cohorts living in Dharmasala when he is not jetting about the world being entertained by the heads of various states. One of the biggest concerns for me is the absolute failure of the Dalai Lama to even acknowledge the issue of his serfs and slaves, and why he refused to emancipate them, choosing to hook up with the CIA instead.

To compound this, the Dalai Lama, nearing the end of his life, and his sponsers, want to continue the harrassment of China after he passes. For the past 10 years or so, he has "debated" various plans (plots?) whereby his successor can seperate Tibet from China. Here is an interesting report or update from Market watch...

March 28, 2011, 10:51 a.m. EDT

Dalai Lama Retirement Accepted, So Now What?

by Jeremy Page

The Dalai Lama's proposal to retire from his political role -- formally ending a 370-year-old tradition -- has finally been accepted by the Tibetan parliament-in-exile after 10 days of emotional debate in the north Indian town of Dharamsala.

The queston now for his followers, and for China's atheist leaders: What happens after he dies?

The exiled parliament passed four unanimous resolutions Friday agreeing to constitutional changes that would allow the Dalai Lama to give up his role as head of the government-in-exile, which he established after fleeing his homeland in 1959. Under the changes, to be formalized in May, his political powers will be formally transferred to a new Prime Minister, known as the Kalon Tripa, who will take power after the final results of an election held last Sunday are announced in April.

The parliament-in-exile initially opposed his retirement, but the 1989 Nobel Peace laureate insisted it was necessary to establish a more democratic, and sustainable, system for leading the 150,000 Tibetans who live in exile and for pushing the non-violent campaign aimed at gaining greater autonomy for Tibet.

"If we have to remain in exile for several more decades, a time will inevitably come when I will no longer be able to provide leadership," the Dalai Lama said in a message to the parliament. "Therefore, it is necessary that we establish a sound system of governance while I remain able and healthy."

China has dismissed the Dalai Lama's retirement as a "trick" designed to impress the international community. On Monday, the Chinese government marked "Serfs' Emancipation Day" -- the date when it dismissed the Dalai Lama as head of the Tibetan government in 1959.
Padma Choling, the Beijing-appointed head of the current Tibetan regional government, made a televised speech on Sunday in which he insisted the Dalai Lama's efforts to revive the "reactionary rule of theocratic feudal serfdom" were doomed to fail.

In reality, both sides have reason to worry about the future of a region that Beijing says has been part of its territory since the 13th Century, but which the Dalai Lama says was de facto independent before Chinese Communist troops took control in 1951.

The Dalai Lama's chief concern, according to people close to him, is that the Chinese government –- which sees him as a dangerous separatist and says it has the right to approve all lamas' reincarnations -- will try to appoint his successor after his death. He says he will continue to act as a spiritual leader, much as previous Dalai Lamas did before 1642, when the Fifth Dalai Lama was enthroned both spritual and political leader following Tibet's unification under the Mongol prince Gushri Khan.

So far the 10-day parliament meeting has offered no further clues as to whether the current Dalai Lama's own successor will be selected in the traditional manner, with senior lamas identifying a young boy as his re-incarnation after his death.

The Dalai Lama has previously suggested a range of options, including having a referendum among his followers to decide whether he should be reincarnated at all. He has also suggested appointing his own successor while he is still alive.

One option could be off the table, however.

The favorite to be the next Prime Minister, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School called Lobsang Sangay, had suggested that the Karmapa Lama, the third highest in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, act as a "regent" to lead after the Dalai Lama's death until his reincarnation is old enough to take over.

The constitutional changes agreed upon Friday entail the abolition of the regency, which traditionally handled Tibet's government in the period between the death of one Dalai Lama and the completion of his successor's education.

Bejing, meanwhile, is concerned that the Dalai Lama's retirement undermines both its ability to appoint a credible successor and its criticism of his government-in-exile as an undemocratic relic of Tibet's old theocracy.

Ironically, as Columbia University Tibetologist Robert Barnett has noted, those concerns mean the Chinese government is now pushing openly for the Dalai Lama to stick to the traditional succession model, even as it continues to denounce the system it says he represents.

The contradiction was on full display last week as a press conference with three local experts from the China Tibetology Research Center organized by the state-backed All-China Journalists' Association.

Tsering Yangdzom, the only ethnic Tibetan among the experts, said the next Dalai Lama should be selected according to a religious tradition that she said dated back to the Sixth Dalai Lama, who reigned 1682-1706. The Sixth Dalai Lama is a significant reference in the succession debate as he was appointed by the Qing dynasty Emperor Kangxi, which the Chinese government maintains as a precedent.

The government-in-exile argues Emperor Kangxi only sent representatives to the Sixth Dalai Lama's inauguration and was not involved in his selection.

Zhou Wei, another of the experts, rejected the Dalai Lama's suggestions that he could appoint his own successor. "If he wants to win the hearts of the Tibetan people, he must respect traditions," he said.

The third expert, Du Yongbin, said the Dalai Lama's retirement plan showed that exile government's prime minister had no real power until now and that therefore religious leader and his followers adhered to "the old theocratic way despite claimed efforts to transform their group into a secular and democratic one."

Mr. Du went on to insist on three cardinal rules for the next Dalai Lama's selection: observe historical precedent, respect religious requirements, and comply with the Chinese government's "managing measures for the reincarnation of living Buddhas."

However, the Living Buddha, Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, claimes that the self proclaimed "retirement" of the dalai Lama is a Farce!

LHASA – The Dalai Lama's announcement of his plan to step down as the political head of the "exiled Tibetan government" is "a self-directed and played out farce", said Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, a living buddha of Tibetan Buddhism, on Monday.

The Dalai Lama's announcement on March 10, in which he said that he would resign his political role, makes it very clear that he is not just a religious leader but also a politician who disrupts the Buddhist orders, said Tenzinchodrak, who is also vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region's People's Congress.

Tenzinchodrak made the comment at a seminar that commemorated the 52nd anniversary of the emancipation of about one million Tibetan serfs, or more than 90 percent of the region's population back then. Monday is the third "Serfs Emancipation Day," an occasion celebrated across the plateau region. During the celebrations, Tibetans dressed in traditional costumes and sang, danced and staged dramas based upon the lives of their ancestors.

"The Dalai Lama wanted to use his 'retirement' rhetoric to attract more listeners and to fan the efforts for splitting Tibet from the motherland," said Tenzinchodrak.

"The Shakyamuni Buddha required Buddhists to pursue spiritual improvement, rather than meddling in politics. But the Dalai Lama has long engaged in activities that aim to split China apart," said Tenzinchodrak.

The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India and created the self-declared "Tibetan government-in-exile" after the central government foiled an armed rebellion he and his supporters staged in 1959. "The Dalai Lama's separatist nature is unchanged. Just as the Tibetan saying goes, 'A black charcoal will never become white no matter how many times you wash it," said Tenzinchodrak.

On March 28, 1959, China's central government announced that 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 hierarchal social system that was characterized by theocracy. The Dalai Lama was at the core of that social order. 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 the region's serfdom.

"All ethnic groups will commemorate that day forever," said Padma Choling, chairman of the regional government, since the Tibetans were freed from the cruel and dark rule of feudal serfdom, which forever changed the human rights situation in Tibet.

Tenzinchodrak, now 61, became the 14th living buddha of Shingtsa Temple in Tibet's Nagarze County in 1955. He was elected vice chairman of the region's People's Congress Standing Committee in 2008.–Xinhua