BEIJING, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Serjor Drolkar was a
herding serf until 1959, when Tibet underwent democratic reform.
"The memories of the first 13 years of my life are
all about hardship, cold and hunger," said Serjor Drolkar, now 64.
Serjor Drolkar said that 1959 was a turning point in
her life, when the Chinese central government launched democratic reform in
Tibet, which ended feudal serfdom and emancipated the serfs and slaves there.
"I remembered that one day, I attended a mass
gathering with several other children. I couldn't quite follow what was being
said. But one People's Liberation Army officer told us, 'You don't have to be
servants anymore. You're free now.' I knew what that meant."
Serjor Drolkar began going to school, later studying
medicine in college. She retired as vice president of Tibet University.
Serjor Drolkar was not alone in Tibet in experiencing
the vicissitudes of life, rising from serfdom to become masters of their own
destiny and the nation.
Before 1959, serfs and slaves accounted for about 95
percent of the population in Tibet, according to Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, a
living Buddha of the Kagyu sect and also vice chairman of the Standing Committee
of the Tibetan Autonomous Region People's Congress.
"They possessed no means of production or personal
freedom, not to mention basic human rights," he said.
In contrast, Tibetans now account for more than 86
percent of officials at county-level governments and and more than 70 percent at
the provincial level in Tibet, according to official statistics.
Ragdi, 71, former vice-chairman of the Standing
Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, also had a
He was a servant for herd owners. He remembered that
he was bitten by a dog while begging and nearly died of infection, because his
family had no money for a doctor.
Baje, another former child serf, can still remember
scrambling with dogs for leftovers discarded by serf owners.
Now with an annual household income of 10,000 yuan
(1,463 U.S. dollars), she and her family live in a two-story building in
Trandruk Township, Shannan Prefecture. With a solar water heater on the roof,
she said her family could have a hot bath whenever they wanted.
"Only those who have suffered in the winter can
understand the warmth of sunshine," said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet
regional government, who was also a peasant in old Tibet.