China to mark defeat of Tibetan rebellion
By TINI TRAN,Associated Press Writer AP - 1 hour 44 minutes ago
BEIJING - Tibet's Communist Party-controlled legislature has voted to create a holiday to mark China's defeat of a pro-independence uprising 50 years ago in the Himalayan region, calling it a day of liberation from feudalism, state media reported Monday.
The 382 legislators attending the session unanimously voted to designate March 28 as "Serf Liberation Day," the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing Legqog, director of the Standing Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Regional People's Congress. Like many Tibetans, Legqog uses a single name.
The politically sensitive date marks the flight of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, into exile in India as Chinese troops attacked in March 1959. On March 28 of that year, Beijing announced the dissolution of the Tibetan government and the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region under Communist rule.
China says Tibet has always been part of its territory, while many Tibetans say their land was virtually independent for centuries.
China has said the holiday would celebrate the "emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves" in Tibet, which was a Buddhist feudal society. Beijing has said 1 million serfs, accounting for 90 percent of Tibet's population in the 1950s, were freed.
Lawmaker Gaisang, 62, an ethnic Tibetan, praised the plan, saying "It is necessary to have the day remembered to comfort the old, who were once serfs, and teach the young who have little idea of that part of history," according to Xinhua.
Like all aspects of life in Tibet, the legislature is controlled by the Communist Party.
Tibet independence advocates have criticized the move, saying it only serves to heighten tensions between Chinese and Tibetans.
"This effort at rewriting history is provocative and irresponsible, given the tensions between Chinese and Tibetans," said Mary Beth Markey of the International Campaign for Tibet.
"Sadly, it reflects an approach the Chinese government has taken in Tibet for the last 50 years, which ignores Tibet's history, identity and the very real problems Tibetans face living under Chinese rule."
The move comes as China prepares for the possibility of more unrest in Tibet this year, following deadly rioting in the capital Lhasa on March 14 last year that sparked the biggest anti-government protests among Tibetans in decades _ and a major military crackdown.
It also reflects how differently the Chinese government and Tibetans view historical events that still create friction today and underscores the government's efforts to discredit the Dalai Lama, who they have blamed for supporting separatist actions.
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