China launched a new holiday Saturday, "Serfs' Emancipation Day," to
mark the 50th anniversary of the communist government's overturning of
the region's feudal system.
The Chinese flag was raised at a
televised ceremony in front of the Potala Palace in Tibet's capital of
Lhasa, and a crowd of 13,000 heard testimonials from Tibetans who
praised the Chinese administration and denounced Tibet's spiritual
leader, the Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama fled his homeland after
Beijing crushed an uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. China says
that is when it brought democratic reform to Tibet.
Lama, however, says that over the past five decades China has killed
hundreds of thousands of Tibetans and turned the region into "hell on
At a gathering Friday in Beijing's Great
Hall of the People, Communist Party officials and the second
highest-ranking Tibetan spiritual leader, Gyaltsen Norbu, praised China
for bringing wealth and civilization to the remote region. Gyaltsen
Norbu was given his high position in Tibetan Buddhism with Beijing's
While the Chinese government is trying to paint a
positive picture of life in Tibet, authorities are also stepping up
security to prevent more unrest.
The Chinese government has
repeatedly accused foreign journalists of distorted reporting about
Tibet. At the same time, Beijing has made it nearly impossible for
foreign reporters to travel there to verify what is sparking continued