01/19/2009, 00.00
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Anniversary of 1959 Tibet rebellion to be celebrated

For the Chinese, 28 March becomes ‘Serf Emancipation Day’. Beijing claims its intervention freed Tibetans from theocratic “slavery” under the Dalai Lama. Many Tibetans remember instead the bloody crackdown which continues unabated. The Dalai Lama says he trusts the Chinese people, not their government.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – China announced today that Tibet would celebrate each year the Chinese military's bloody crushing of its 1959 rebellion. The legislature of the Tibet Autonomous Region voted to make 28 March ‘Serf Emancipation Day.’ It is not known whether it will be a statutory holiday or simply a day for official ceremonies.

“On March 28, 1959, Tibetan serfs and slaves, who accounted for more than 90 per cent of the region's population, were freed after the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters,” Xinhua said.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951. A year earlier it had sent troops into the Himalayan nation, ostensibly to free it from a Buddhist theocracy that had enslaved its population (pictured, Tibetans in Chushul in 1959 looking at artists making Mao portraits).

For Tibetans matters are quite the reverse. Contrary to China’s version of events, Beijing occupied the country with force and crushed a popular uprising in blood, driving the Dalai Lama and his supporters into exile.

Moreover, the Chinese have subjected the indigenous population to policies designed to systematically obliterate their culture, religion and even their ethnic identity as Tibetans.

Discriminated and imprisoned because of their faith in the Dalai Lama, Tibetans have also had put up with mass immigration by ethnic Han Chinese who are favoured in public sector employment and commerce.

Whenever they protest, they are crushed like last March.

For this year pro-Tibet groups have announced their own commemoration of the 50th anniversary of China’s repression.

They believe that China’s decision to commemorate the 1959 crackdown this year is meant to give it a more positive spin.

“Our faith towards (Chinese) government is getting thinner and thinner; however our faith in the Chinese people has never shaken,” said the Dalai Lama on a visit today to a Delhi college.

Ever hopeful, he noted that “governments change, leadership changes, and eventually, the policy will also change.”

“As time passes, I think (China's policy) has to change. In the long run, in spite of the setback, I think it's . . . [going to be] OK . . . . The Tibetan spirit is very, very strong,” he said.

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