Wednesday, March 10, 1999 Published at 21:07 GMT
China: Tibet shining example of human rights
The Chinese Communist Party newspaper People's Daily has marked the 40th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule by describing the intervening period as a triumph of human rights and dismissing the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama as a tool of the West.
"Tibetan society before the democratic reform was darker and more cruel than Europe's system of serfdom in the Middle Ages and can be said to have been one of the world's most serious violations of human rights," the overseas edition of the newspaper said on Wednesday.
"Serfs and slaves made up more than 95% of the population and had no land or personal freedom.
"Their owners had them at their disposal because they were private property.
"They could trade or sell them or present them as gifts... With the help of the law, the serf-owners applied extremely cruel penalties like gouging out eyes, cutting off feet, tongue or hands, throwing people off cliffs or into water, or executing them to maintain their rule."
The uprising in 1959 had been an attempt to continue the feudal system, but it had been rejected by Tibetans in favour of "democratic reforms" which ushered in a "golden chapter" in the history of human rights.
"After this rebellion was quelled, the central government decided to comply with the wishes of the Tibetan people and implement the democratic reforms," the newspaper said.
"There are no manorial lords or serfs today and people are no longer sold, traded, given, or mortgaged as property, nor are they separated into several categories or classes, and there is no more gouging out of eyes, cutting off of feet or hands or tongues.
"The democratic reforms were a glorious chapter in the history of global human rights in the 20th century."
Turning to the Dalai Lama, the People's Daily said he had spurned Chinese tolerance by colluding with Western forces to provoke violence in Tibet.
"The central government has been magnanimous toward the Dalai Lama and his followers and has made all kinds of efforts to persuade them to give up their ideas on 'Tibetan independence' and stop trying to divide the country.
"But the Dalai Lama has judged the situation incorrectly and has increased efforts to push for 'Tibetan independence' as a tool in the hands of Western forces and has even tried to stir up riots and terrorist activities in Tibet.
"He has done nothing good for the Tibetan people in his 40 years of fugitive life."
BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.