A Soul in Bondage: Stories from Tibet

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He likes to wear gold and silver rings, the type of ornaments that he once saw on the fingers of aristocrats. Like Wangdu, most people who have memories of serfdom are aged 70 or more, and Tibet has distanced itself from its past. But families in Tibet still share the common memory of dire suffering and regard it as the best justification for the need to reform.

Padma Chozin was born in , the same year the reform started, so she never had to sleep near a cowshed and work without pay, like her big brother Tenzin Chophel did. The siblings' parents lived on an estate that belonged to an official of then Tibetan local government Surkhang Wangchen Geleg. Tenzin Chophel's childhood memories are about constant starvation.

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It was such a small place," he said. Three days after Padma Chozin was born, the democratic reform started and the herders and farmers association redistributed the serf owner's land and cattle to the public. After the reform, Tibetans like Padma Chozin refused to accept subjugation as a way of living. Life began to change rapidly for the better. Padma Chozin was sent to school by her father and at age 16 became the first medical professional in her home of Damxoi Village. She worked for over 30 years as a pediatrician before her retirement five years ago.

Now her extended family has more than 70 people, with different careers such as sanitation workers, teachers, civil servants, entrepreneurs and drivers. The dark days of the past are long gone but will never be forgotten," she said. In the democratic reform, the central government fully considered Tibet's status as an ethnic and border region with deep religious traditions, said Zhang Yun, director of the Institute of History at China Tibetology Research Center.

In , a system of regional ethnic autonomy came into practice in Tibet to ensure the rights of ethnic groups in political, economic, cultural and social fields. Tibetan people became masters of their own affairs. According to the white paper, there are 35, deputies to the people's congresses at all levels in Tibet. Of them, deputies from Tibetan and other ethnic minority groups account for over 92 percent. Tibet's local legislature made over regulations on preserving the ethnic language, cultivating ethnic cadres, and ensuring freedom of religion, Zhang said. One of the bills is to regulate sky burials, a Tibetan tradition in which bodies are fed to vultures and other predatory birds.

It is taken as an act of generosity and a ritual that allows the soul to ascend to heaven. Thubten Khedrup, one of the advisors and an economics professor from Tibet University, has presented nearly proposals both at the regional level and national level since first elected as a political advisor in Besides a modern economic, political and cultural system that shepherds the development of the region, another boost for Tibet comes from the central government.

In the past six decades, the central government has convened six conferences on Tibet. During the 13th Five-year period , a total of The economic support has served well in solving the conflict between economic development and environmental protection, a priority at the roof of the world, with its fragile natural environment. Tibet has 47 nature reserves.

Hartley is Tibetan Studies Librarian at the C. She is President and Founder of the Tibetan Arts and Literature Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Tibetan publishing initiatives.

Schiaffini-Vedani has a doctorate in Chinese language and literature, specializing in Sinophone Tibetan literature. Patricia Schiaffini-Vedani, Hartley, Patricia Schiaffini-Vedani.

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