Monday, March 7, 2016

When Tibetans fought for Rangzen

The Panchen Lama with Chinese Fan Ming and another Communist official
I am posting today a personal letter from Apa B. Pant, the Political Officer in Sikkim addressed to Subimal Dutt, India’s Foreign Secretary.
The letter is dated February 17, 1956.
It is interesting in the context of the present campaign to elect the next Political Leader of the Tibetans.
The S.I.B. report mentioned by Pant is unfortunately not available.
It is interesting to note that in the history of modern Tibet, the dissent or even the revolt, has often come from the masses, not from the aristocracy or the clergy.
The same thing will happen 3 years later in Lhasa with the uprising of the 'masses'.
The 'masses' had however supporters among the latter classes as Pant's letter shows. Alo Chonze was then the main leader of the Mimang.
"The absorption of Tibet by China would be a difficult process", says Pant in 1956. It was quite prophetic.
Pant also affirms: "The more they try to put up the Panchen Lama, as an equal of the Dalai Lama, the more the general mass of Tibetans would resist them", the present leadership in China should read this at a time the Party tries to impose their own Panchen Lama on the masses.

Here is Apa Pant's letter

I had asked the S.I.B. [Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau] to prepare a note about the Mimang Tsongdu [Peoples’ Association] from the information they have collected over the past four years. I send you herewith a copy of the report sent to me by Shri Bose, Asst. Director S.I.B. Kalimpong.

2. It is interesting to note that most of the Tibetan officials in the govt. of Tibet have been either inactive or too afraid of the Chinese to take any positives [steps] and amongst them there have been some like Ngapo [Ngabo Ngawang Jigme] Shape who sincerely in the beginning felt that the Chinese would be in a position to help the Tibetans in their progress. His collaboration with the Chinese however has not at all satisfied the general mass of Tibetans. Other Tibetan officials including such people as Tsarong, Surkhang, have sided with the Chinese in order to make their own position secure in the govt.

3. The Mimang movement has thus grown from the bottom. It is an expression of the discontent that now pervades many classes of people inside Tibet. I have been reliably told that the committee of seven have taken oaths in front of some of the sacred chapels in Lhasa to carry through the resistance movement. The committee of fifteen of which the majority of members are not very important has also sworn an oath of secrecy and allegiance to the Mimang.

4. The most important people who are perhaps directing the actions of the Mimang are Lukhangwa the ex-prime minister, Lobsang Tashi and Trijang rimpoche. Trijang rimpoche is very close to the D.L. and I personally have no doubt that he himself is well aware of both these parties the Mimang and the Thamang.

5. What this S.I.B. report says about the actions of some of the nobility from Tibet regarding their attempts to contact foreign powers is very true. Most of them however not understood that outside help for the furtherance of their cause would not be available. There are however, some people like PHU RAGPA PANDATSANG, who still persists in contacting foreign powers. I have given my views about him in a letter which I have written to [T.N.] Kaul [Joint Secretary in the MEA].

6. The absorption of Tibet by China would be a difficult process. Tibetans certainly feel that the Chinese are imposing a form of colonialism on them. They therefore look towards those nations who are professedly anti colonial and take up the cause of the down trodden.

7. The Chinese on their side I am quite sure would try to bring about their dynamic reformist and revolutionary zeal in order to change the pattern of life in Tibet. I think the Chinese will stand or fail not only by their good intentions but by their actions untarnished either by persecution, violence or totalitarian methods. If the Chinese in order to reform Tibet establish a kind of a dictatorship I fear the Tibetans would certainly resist them.

8. Though I am myself not yet convinced that the organization of the Thamang or Mimang is perfect it will certainly come about and the Chinese would find it very difficult to carry on in that country. Nearly six years have elapsed since the arrival of Chinese in Tibet and yet it has not been possible for them to have any substantial majority of the mass of the population on their side on the other hand many who hoped China would help have been disillusioned and some have even joined the Mimang.

9. The action of the Chinese to bolster up the PANCHEN LAMA has also affected of the general mass of Tibetans towards them. The more they try to put up the PANCHEN LAMA, as an equal of the Dalai Lama, the more the general mass of Tibetans would resist them.

I feel that we should keep good watch on these events that are taking place across our border. The Indo-Mongoloid living in Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal and our other border areas are very deeply affected emotionally and otherwise by all that is happening in Tibet.
They watch the events in Tibet very carefully and also watch the reactions of India and other countries to all that is happening there. To these people the METO [METO or Middle East Treaty Organization?], SEATO (?) [The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization], the Hydrogen bomb or the Atom bomb are far away things. What is vital to them is the position of the D.L. [Dalai Lama] and the fate of their brothers and cousin across the border.

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