Monday, May 23, 2011

Sixty Years Ago


Sixty year years, a Tibetan delegation led by Ngabo Ngawang Jigme was forced to sign a Seventeen-Point Agreement in Beijing.
I have already written about the conditions under which the Agreement was signed. 
Read about it in my previous postings.
I am posting today an extract from the biography of the Dalai Lama (Freedom in Exile). He was in Dromo in Chumbi valley near the Indian border (Sikkim). 
He vividly recalls these dramatic events.
Article One says: "The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet; the Tibetan people shall return to the big family of the Motherland-the People's Republic of China".
It was a capitulation for the Tibetans. 
The Chinese call it 'liberation'. 
The recent events of Kirti monastery demonstrate that 60 years later the Tibetans have not capitulated.


(From Freedom in Exile)
From my rooms in the monastery, I could look down towards the river where farmers came to graze their sheep, yaks and dzomos. And I could watch, enviously, the groups of picnickers that came almost daily to build a little fire and cook down by the water's edge. I was so enchanted with all that I saw that I felt brave enough to ask Ling Rinpoche for some time off. He must have felt the same way as, to my surprise, he granted me a holiday. I could not remember being happier as I spent several days roaming around the area. On one of my excursions I visited a Bon monastery. My only sadness was that I knew that troubled times lay ahead. It could not be long now before we heard from Ngabo in Peking. I half expected bad news, but nothing could have prepared me for the shock when it came.
At the monastery I had an old Bush radio receiver which ran off a six-volt battery. Every evening, I would listen to the Tibetan language broadcasts of Radio Peking. Sometimes I did so with one or other official, but often I listened alone. The majority of the broadcasts were taken up with propaganda about the 'Glorious Motherland', but I must say that I was very impressed with much of what I heard. There was constant talk of industrial progress and of the equality of all China's citizens. This seemed like the perfect combination of material and spiritual progress. However, one evening, as I sat alone, there was a very different sort of programme. A harsh, crackling voice announced that a Seventeen Point 'Agreement' for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet had that day been signed by representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China and what they called the 'Local Government' of Tibet.
I could not believe my ears. I wanted to rush out and call everybody in, but I sat transfixed. The speaker described how 'over the last hundred years or more' aggressive imperialist forces had penetrated into Tibet and 'carried out all kinds of deceptions and provocations'. It added that 'under such conditions, the Tibetan nationality and people were plunged into the depths of enslavement and suffering'. I felt physically ill as I listened to this unbelievable mixture of lies and fanciful clich├ęs.
But there was worse to come.
Clause One of the 'Agreement' stated that 'The Tibetan people shall unite and drive out imperialist aggressive forces from Tibet. The Tibetan people all return to the big family of the Motherland - the People's Republic of China.'
What could it mean? The last foreign army to have been stationed on Tibetan soil was the Manchu army in 1912.
As far as I was aware (and now know), there was no more than a handful of Europeans in Tibet at that time. And the idea of Tibet 'returning to the Motherland' was shameless invention. Tibet had never been part of China. In fact, as I have mentioned already, Tibet has ancient claims to large parts of China. On top of which, our respective peoples are ethnically and racially distinct. We do not speak the same language, nor is our script anything like the Chinese script. As the International Commission of Jurists stated subsequently in their report:
'Tibet' s position on the expulsion of the Chinese in 1912 can fairly be described as one of de facto independence ...it is therefore submitted that the events of 19 II - 12 mark the re-emergence of Tibet as a fully sovereign state, independent in fact and in law of Chinese control.'
What was most alarming, however, was that Ngabo had not been empowered to sign anything on my behalf, only to negotiate. I had kept the seals of state with me at Dromo to ensure that he could not. So he must have been coerced. But it was several more months before I heard the whole story. In the meantime, all we had to go on was the radio broadcast (repeated several times), together with a number of self-congratulatory sermons about the joys of Communism, the glory of Chairman Mao, the wonders of the People's Republic of China and all the good things that the Tibetan people could look forward to now that our destinies were united. It was quite silly.
The details of the Seventeen-Point 'Agreement' were chilling all the same.
Clause Two announced that the 'Local Government' of Tibet would 'actively assist the People's Liberation Army to enter Tibet and consolidate the national defence'. This meant, so far as l could judge, that our farces were expected to surrender at once.
Clause Eight continued the theme by saying that the Tibetan army was to be absorbed into the Chinese army - as if such a thing were possible. Then in Clause Fourteen we learned that, from now on, Tibet was to be deprived of all authority aver the conduct of her external affairs. Interspersed with these more telling clauses were others assuring Tibet of religious freedom and protecting my position and the present political system. But far all these platitudes one thing was clear: from now on, the Land of Snows answered to the People’s Republic of China.
As the unhappy reality of our position began to sink in, several people, notably Taktser Rinpoche in a long letter from Calcutta, urged me to leave far India at once. They argued that the only hope for Tibet lay in finding allies to help us fight the Chinese. When l reminded them that our missions to India, Nepal, Great Britain and the United States had already been turned back, they countered that once these countries realised the gravity of the situation, they would be sure to after their support. They painted out that the United States was implacably opposed to Communist expansionism and was already fighting a war in Korea far that very reason. l could see the logic of their arguments, but somehow felt the fact that America was already engaged in fighting an one front lessened the likelihood of her wanting to open up a second.
A few days later, a long telegram arrived from the delegation in Peking. It did not say very much beyond repeating what we had already heard on the radio. Obviously Ngabo was being prevented from telling the truth. Recently, same members of the delegation have related in their memoirs the full story of how they were forced to sign the 'Agreement' under duress and use counterfeit seals of the Tibetan state. But from Ngabo's telegram I could only guess at what had happened. However, he did say that the new Governor-General of Tibet, General Chiang Chin-wu [Zhang Jingwu], was en route to Dromo via India. We should expect him shortly.

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