Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ngapo and the Cultural Revolution

That day, he removed his stars
While the Tibetan Diaspora is debating whether Ngapo Ngawang Jigme was a patriot or not, I found in my archives the transcript of an interview with a former Tibetan 'Red Guard' who clearly remembered the only time Ngapo was 'struggled'. 
In fact it was staged managed by the Chinese; Ngapo never suffered like all other senior Tibetan (and Chinese) leaders.
I find it strange when some Tibetans compared the case of Ngapo to the one of the Late Panchen Lama or of Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal. 
Let us not forget that the Panchen Lama (and Phunwnag) spent 17/18 years in Chinese jails or concentration camps. Ngapo is one of the few leader in China who has never suffered and managed to peacefully surf through the different purges and upheavals of Modern China. It shows how pliable he was. He may be a Chinese patriot, but certainly not a Tibetan patriot.
The Panchen Lama during a 'struggle' session
The Panchen Lama had the courage to send his 70,000-characters petition to Zhou Enlai ('a Poisonous Arrow', according to Mao), he suffered dearly for it (and lost his hearing). It has not been the case of Ngapo. 
Phunwang also nearly became insane in solitary confinement. I respect them, Ngapo was just  a collaborator.

Interview with a former Tibetan Red Guard
Question: What happened to Ngapo [Ngawang Jigme] during [the Cultural Revolution]? Did he get through a ‘struggle session’ (tamzhing)?

TW [former Red Guard]: Ngapo was ‘struggled’ only one time and during this session, he was heavily protected by the PLA.
At the time he was supposed to be ‘struggled’, the [Red] students [conducting the ‘struggle’] were sent to the Office of the TAR which was covered with Big Character Posters [praising the Cultural Revolution].
The Chinese [students] did not speak Tibetan and they wanted to know what was written on the posters; we were told to say what the posters said, what were the slogans in Tibetan. They took notes of the Tibetan Big Character Posters, but as they did not know Tibetan, they just copied them (after we had explained the meaning).
Another day we were called to the main headquarters of the TAR to manage the crowd. Thousands of people were shouting: “Down with Ngapo Jigme, let him be killed”. When we went there, we saw Ngapo in his military uniform; he was lead by some Chinese soldiers. He was brought on the stage and before making his confession, he took out the five stars out of his uniform and put them into his pocket and said: “For years and years my family had been exploiting the Tibetan people, and we will not able to get rid of this [sin] forever.” He just said that and he was quickly taken away by the PLA soldiers.
He then put in the plane and flown to China. He was accompanied by his family members. Not a member of his family was left behind [in Tibet].
The reason why Tibetans were so angry with Ngapo, (though they could not say it openly) was because in 1951, he had signed the 17-Point Agreement with the Chinese government. But also because the Chinese [Army] gave him a full protection.

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