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Tibetan resistance movement: Wikis


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The initial People's Republic of China's military invasion of Tibet in 1950 met with high resistance in the heart of the country. The 14th Dalai Lama, on the urging of his elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, proposed reforms, including limitations on the land holdings of the monasteries, abolishing of debt bondage, and other government and tax reforms as a response to the invasion. These were designed to forestall expected revolutionary initiatives of the Communists. However, these ideas found little support among the entrenched Tibetan power structure. The Chinese leadership was skeptical of being able to control Gyalo, but had decided to support him as a way to colonize the region. Their plan was to indoctrinate him in Beijing. Foreseeing the eventual cultural submersion of his people, the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, eventually settling in Darjeeling near Kalimpong on the Tibetan border.

The Dalai Lama has said that he appealed to the Nationalist Chinese and the United States for aid in resisting the Communist Chinese occupation and together with others in the Darjeeling/Kalimpong area formed a small independence group. Other leaders included Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa, who participated in the 1947 trade delegation and Khenchung Lobsang Gyaltsen, a monk who was the Tibetan trade representative in Kalimpong. Communications were established with the Tibetan officials in Lhasa and with the aid of its publisher, the Tibetan language newspaper, The Tibetan Mirror, began to cover events within Tibet. The CIA, whose contacts in the area were through the Royal family of Sikkim, is skeptical about Gyalo's claims but was in contact with him in August, 1952. Gyalo was also in contact with Bhola Nath Mullik, director of India's intelligence agency, the Intelligence Bureau from 1953 on.

The United States, which was engaged in the Korean War with the Chinese, began to aid the Tibetan independence movement. In the summer of 1956, several independence protests broke out in Amdo and Kham, and the CIA began to aid the Dalai Lama. This was ruthlessly suppressed. In early 1957 Dalai Lama selected eight candidates from the group for CIA training for scouting missions into Tibet in order to assess the nature of Tibetan independence movement. They were trained at the CIA's training facility on Saipan, the Saipan Training Center, and dropped in two groups by parachute back into Tibet in 1958. The first group, dropped near Lhasa, traveled there and requested that the Dalai Lama request aid from the United States for their movement. That request was refused by the Dalai Lama but the CIA continued their support. The second group was inserted near Litang in Kham and made contact with a Tibetan resistance group. However that group was soon attacked and all but one of the inserted group killed. The survivor managed to find his way to central Tibet where freedom fighters were mobilizing.[1]

The Tibetans' tendency was to form large groups, complete with their herds and families, and so were easy targets for the People's Liberation Army Air Force. They also fought vigorous battles with large groups of Chinese soldiers in which they suffered heavy casualties. Thus, they were unsuccessful in conducting traditional guerrilla warfare. This failure led to their ultimate retreat into India in 1959 after the Lhasa rebellion.

Tibetan exiles generally say that the number that have died in the Great Leap Forward, violence, or other unnatural causes since 1950 is approximately 1.2 million, which the Communist Party of China denies. The Central Tibetan Administration also says that millions of Chinese immigrants to the TAR are diluting the Tibetans both culturally and through intermarriage.

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