China to Mark Defeat of Tibet Uprising

With the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising approaching in March, and with memories of last year’s riots still fresh, Chinese leaders in Beijing have opted this year to mark the occasion by naming a “Serf Liberation Day.” From AP:

A holiday to mark the “emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves” in Tibet will be decided on during a meeting of the region’s legislature starting Wednesday, Xinhua News Agency said.

The entry of Chinese forces into Tibet in 1949 was followed by efforts to transform the Buddhist, feudal order into a socialist, secular society. Tibetans rebelled on March 10, 1959, to try an oust the Chinese, but the uprising ended after 20 days with the flight of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, into exile in India.

A bill to decide on a holiday marking those events will be presented during the second annual session of the ninth Tibet Regional People’s Congress, Xinhua said.

The bill is aimed at “reminding all the Chinese people, including Tibetans, of the landmark democratic reform initiated 50 years ago,” Pang Boyong, deputy secretary general of the Tibetan regional congress standing committee, said Saturday, according to the report.

Meanwhile, McClatchy profiles Gyalwang Karmapa, the third-highest lama in the Tibetan religious order, who has been mentioned as a possible transition leader after the death of the Dalai Lama:

The Karmapa is the first Tibetan Buddhist reincarnation to be recognized by both the Dalai Lama and Communist Party authorities of China. He made headlines in January 2000, at age 14, with his flight from Chinese-ruled Tibet into exile, traveling by foot and horseback, then by jeep and helicopter to India. Allegations of espionage, intrigue involving a forgotten amulet and squabbling within a monastery marked his early years in India.

Exuding self-assuredness, the solidly built, 6-foot-tall Karmapa received several foreign journalists in a rare interview over the weekend at the university that’s his temporary home near the mountain headquarters of the Dalai Lama. The Karmapa talked of his love of music, his future role for Tibetan Buddhists and the lack of human rights in China.

He criticized the Chinese government, which he said wanted “to create this ethnic conflict” that exploded in deadly rioting in Tibet in March. However, he spoke tenderly of the Chinese.

“Since I am born as a Tibetan, I really care about the Tibetan people and Tibetan community. At the same time, I also love the Chinese,” he said.

Read about the controversy over the selection of the Karmapa via Wikipedia. See also CDT’s coverage of last year’s riots in Tibet.

January 11, 2009 5:48 PM
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Categories: Human Rights, Politics