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World Briefing / China

Events mark Tibet takeover

March 28, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Testimonials about the misery of life in old Tibet kicked off celebrations for the newest holiday on China's political calendar: the communist government's overturning of the region's feudal hierarchy.

Publicized in TV documentaries, editorials in the state media and museum exhibits, what Beijing calls Serfs Liberation Day likens the end of the Dalai Lama's rule 50 years ago to Abraham Lincoln's emancipation of the slaves.

"Abolishing old Tibet's theocratic feudal system is an important milestone in the world's anti-slavery movement," senior Communist Party leader Jia Qinglin said at a conclave to kick off celebrations in Beijing, on the eve of the anniversary today.

A year ago Tibetan regions erupted in violent protests against Chinese rule, prompting a swift clampdown by paramilitary forces that has remained in place.

Security has been tightened in recent weeks because March is often a flash point -- a time when Tibetans mourn and protest over the failed 1959 revolt that sent their revered Dalai Lama into exile.

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