Monday, 21 July 2008


Behind the reluctance of China and Africa to criticize Mugabe
By Howard W. French
Thursday, July 3, 2008

SHANGHAI: For a crisis involving African despotism, the
decibel readings in the West over Zimbabwe have reached
almost unprecedented levels.

Beyond the din of condemnations of Robert Mugabe, that
country's aging, power-obsessed tyrant, however, a great
many questions have gone unexamined.

Western governments led by London and Washington look at
Mugabe's rule and see such a clear-cut case of evil that
they are at a loss to understand why the rest of Africa -
or China, for that matter, a Security Council member with
fast-deepening ties with the continent - doesn't rush to
join in on their condemnation.

The Zimbabwe case should be more, though, than a tragedy
for its own people, for it presents an invaluable
opportunity to think about how differently the world can
look from different vantage points. And far from an idle
thought exercise, this might helpfully lead to a rethinking
of diplomatic strategy in Africa and in other parts of the

As the second most important country in southern Africa,
Zimbabwe, like that region itself, has long functioned like
a kaleidoscope, serving up dramatically different
perspectives to different viewers.

I was reminded of this fact by the recent news that a South
African citizen of Chinese ancestry, Patrick Chong, had won
a lawsuit enabling him to be legally considered black. The
outcome was a triumph over a history of double
discrimination. Like other ethnic Chinese, the plaintiff,
who is chairman of the Chinese Association of South Africa,
was denied many basic rights during the apartheid era, and
he had also been denied the compensation won by the
country's black majority with the demise of a system of
legally enshrined racism.

As the perverse language of apartheid would have put it,
Chong has now become an "honorary black."

What does this all have to do with Zimbabwe? Before
Zimbabwe became a majority-ruled, independent country in
1980, and during the long years of apartheid in South
Africa, both of those countries were treated with similar
perversity as honorary members of the West.

While China was building the Tazara Railroad, to connect
Zambia's mines to Tanzania's ports in order to loosen
white-ruled South Africa's economic grip on the southern
half of the continent, the United States and Britain were
running diplomatic interference for apartheid rule in

Washington often went further, backing South African
guerrilla proxies in places like Angola, prolonging
devastating wars there and elsewhere, and staving off
independence for South African-occupied Namibia in the name
of fighting communism.

Short memories abound, but in Africa this is not yet
ancient history. In 1987, while South Africa was actively
pursuing a policy of sabotage against its neighbors,
devastating vital infrastructure and supporting mass
killers like the Renamo rebels in Mozambique, Washington
reserved most of its indignation for "necklacing," a
small-bore terror tactic practiced by blacks in South
Africa. An amendment passed with overwhelming support in
the U.S. Senate requiring southern African countries to
condemn these lynchings or lose American aid.

Mugabe said it himself when he wrote in Foreign Affairs in
1987: "Political and material support of desperate bandit
groups, dissidents and self-seeking, discredited
individuals by a superpower like the United States is a
prescription for chaos and instability in the international
political system. Calling such a hodgepodge of individuals
'freedom fighters' does not make them any such thing."

Looking back, it isn't hard to conclude that China was in
many ways closer to being on the right side of history in
southern Africa than the United States, for all of
America's vaunted attachment to freedom, democracy and
human rights.

It is anything but clear that China has maintained that
position today, as it pursues neo-mercantilist policies and
abstains from pressuring Mugabe to end the campaign of
terror and economic devastation waged against his own

Still, if one pauses to consider, it is relatively easy to
grasp why African leaders might question the good faith
behind the West's admirable sounding values and abstain
from the chorus of condemnations, or why the Chinese might
themselves be skeptical.

An African journalist wrote me this week, comparing the
vociferous Western response to Mugabe to the customary
silence that attends atrocities, political hijackings and
despotism on the continent, especially where critical
Western interests are in play. A former U.S. ambassador to
Zimbabwe had told her: "Everyone felt they had invested
something in the success of Zimbabwe, so when it all began
unraveling, everyone felt personally disappointed and let

This looks too easy by half, and it is hard to avoid the
heretical question whether the vociferous response,
especially by Britain, isn't somehow related to race?

Unlike most of the continent, Rhodesia, like South Africa
and Kenya, were places where whites settled and became

Ivory Coast, another erstwhile showcase, was allowed to
cycle through stolen elections, coups, ethnic cleansing and
civil war, registering scarcely a ripple on the global

But telling Africans they will be judged by how they line
up on Zimbabwe is counterproductive for other reasons, too.
The West's constant search for African leaders to anoint or
vilify is resented on the continent, and its track record,
moreover, is riddled with spots.

Paranoid African dictators look at the calls to denounce
Mugabe and worry they might be next. The more
democratically inclined know better. They see Washington's
embrace of dictators in places like Equatorial Guinea, or
even former enemies, like the robber baron former Marxists
who run Angola, and see a pattern of highly selective
outrage. Might the fact that these countries - to name but
two - are swimming in oil have something to do with
escaping the Mugabe treatment?

China looks at this inconsistency, too, and naturally
suspects it is being discriminated against. The only
African country that has drawn more Western critical fire
than Zimbabwe recently is Sudan, for its genocidal campaign
in Darfur. It's an emerging oil power, too, but unlike so
many African kleptocracies, its product flows east, not

Thursday, 3 July 2008


Nepal Following China's Economic Path

By Russell Hsiao July 3, 2008
Jamestown China Brief

Two years following the peace agreement that brought an end
to 11 years of Maoist insurgency against government forces
in Nepal, Girija Prasad Koirala, Nepal’s interim prime
minister, has resigned on June 26, paving the way for a
Maoist-led government under Communist Party of Nepal
(Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal (also known as

In an exclusive interview with Nanfang Daily, a Chinese
newspaper based in Guangdong province, incoming Prime
Minister Prachanda emphasized that Nepal’s backward economy
is the most pressing challenge: “Without economic
development, it will be difficult to maintain social
stability.” Prachanda went on further to chide
Western-style capitalism and praised China’s model of
economic development as one that Nepal will emulate. “We
will build special economic zones like China,” Prachanda
said. “The special economic zones stimulated China’s
economic development, and we want to learn from China.
China’s experience is really helpful for us.” In the
interview, Prachanda emphasized the geographic proximity
between China and Nepal, and the high respect that Nepalese
people have for China and Chinese people. “For Nepal’s
national independence, it is critically important for Nepal
to maintain intimate relations with China” (Nanfang Daily,
June 30).

Wang Hong-wei, a professor at the Institute of Asia-Pacific
Studies in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in
an interview that “China knows very well that India wants
to turn Nepal into a second Bhutan or Sikkim. Moreover,
Nepal may enter the process of ‘Sikkim-isation’ … But,
China must not let this situation occur.” Wang added: “But
I think the time has not yet come for China to play an
intervening role for that because the feeling of patriotism
is still alive in Nepal” (, June 30). Wang
concluded by saying that “maybe he [Chairman Prachanda]
will come (to China) after becoming the prime minister … I
think he will visit India first and then only China after
becoming the prime minister” (eKantipur, June 30).

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


The Passion of Tenzin Tsundue

Thursday, June 26, 2008
China Matters

On June 21, the Chinese government was able to claim a victory of sorts, at least in terms of the semiotics of state power, by orchestrating an incident-free, albeit truncated Olympic torch relay through Lhasa.

Almost contemporaneously, a 1300-kilometer, ninety day march through India to the Tibetan border organized by the Tibetan People's Uprising Movement (hereinafter TPUM) fizzled to a miserable conclusion as its last few dozen members were arrested as they tried to peacefully shoulder their way past a blockade of 200 Indian police in the remote border town of Dharchula. The marchers were released—and subsequently dispersed--amid international indifference.

These two processions are not unrelated.

There's been a certain resistance in the Western press to assessing the significance of—or even reporting the existence of—TPUM, its long march, or its possible role in the unrest that roiled ethnic Tibetan regions of the People's Republic of China in March 2008.

But an answer may be held in the burned hands of Tenzin Tsundue, the charismatic author and activist who is trying to remake the Tibetan exile movement, seemingly by force of his individual will.

In March of this year, as riots spread across the Tibetan areas, Tsundue languished in an Indian prison, burning his hands with cigarettes--in frustration? in expiation?--as the movement he had struggled to create careened out of control, and the grand gesture he had orchestrated was crushed by geopolitical realities.

Tsundue midwifed TPUM. His energy, ideas, and prestige were apparently indispensable in helping conceive TPUM, create its underlying coalition, and define its mission.

If bulletin board chatter is to be believed, he was also instrumental in securing his ally Tsewang Rigzin's election as president of the Tibetan Youth Congress late last year—mounting what one poster characterized as “a giant campaign”—thereby securing the commitment of that group's resources and prestige to TPUM:

TPUM is a coalition of five leading NGOs in the Tibetan exile movement: the Tibetan Youth Congress, a relatively militant Tibetan independence advocacy group; the National Democracy Party of Tibet, its political arm; the Tibetan Women's Association; Gu-Chu-Sam, an organization of monks who were ex-political prisoners inside the PRC; and Students for a Free Tibet (India). Tsundue was at one time the General Secretary of SFT (India).

TPUM was established in November of last year in an atmosphere of great urgency. The PRC was responding to the aging Dalai Lama's overtures with cynical temporizing. The 2008 Olympics looked to be a showcase for China's economic and political progress, and a chance to assert its leading role throughout Asia at the expense of Tibetan aspirations. The opening of the railroad to Lhasa presaged the further integration of Tibetan areas into the PRC and dilution of Tibetan identity and nationalist fervor.

TPUM, while professing to respect the Dalai Lama's stature as the embodiment of Tibetan culture, repudiated his political concessions (he had abandoned calls for Tibetan independence in favor of autonomy) and his conciliatory tactics (he supported the Beijing Olympics and discouraged confrontational anti-PRC positions and statements).

Early this year, TPUM issued a defiant manifesto and video appeal calling for Tibetan independence and the stripping of the Olympics away from Beijing. It announced a march of activists “to Tibet” from India.

And, most problematically—and ambiguously—TPUM seemed to call for corresponding direct action from sympathizers inside Tibet.

The manifesto called for a “global movement of Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet taking control of our political destiny by engaging in direct action”.

The video appeal included the statement “we must rise up and resist and bring about an even greater Uprising. An Uprising that will shake the Chinese government to its core.”

And somehow, on May 10, in Lhasa, on the 49th anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day, something happened.

A large group of monks emerged from their monasteries that evening and appeared in Lhasa's central square to engage in a silent protest.

Then, somebody on the monk side or the public security side lost their cool, arrests were made, and the situation deteriorated into a nasty car-burning, store-torching, people-beating riot conducted by Tibetan citizens of Lhasa against the detested Chinese interlopers.

Sympathetic demonstrations and actions spread to multiple locations inside the PRC Tibetan areas and triggered a crackdown, a disputed number of deaths, a slew of arrests and—in response to an avalanche of negative press, opinion, and demonstrations in the West that threw the Olympic torch relay into chaos—a stream of vociferously nationalistic and abusive articles in the Chinese press concerning the role of TPUM and the Tibetan Youth Congress in fomenting the disturbances.

Western media outlets—apparently loathe to abet China's crude play of the “outside agitator” card when widespread domestic discontent against PRC rule was patent in the Tibetan areas—didn't take the bait.

And on the one occasion I could find in which a Western outlet solicited a comment from TPUM, Tsewang Rigzin—the leader of the Tibetan Youth Congress and TPUM’s main organizational muscle—denied any role in the protests inside China.

However, I don't think it's necessarily that simple.

As a matter of self-preservation, TPUM has to be coy about organizing or encouraging any activities inside Tibet.

Currently, India is a lot more interested in managing relations with China than accommodating the dreams of the Tibetan exile community. If there's a whiff of suspicion that Tibetan groups inside India are working to destabilize PRC rule in ethnic Tibetan regions, arrest, prohibition, or even deportation are the likely fates awaiting TPUM and its members.

Even if TPUM had gone beyond hoping and wishing to actively planning or encouraging a manifestation in Lhasa on May 11, either directly or through cut-outs, plausible deniability would have to be maintained if the organization were to continue to enjoy its safe haven in India.

To gain a better understanding of the goals and activities of TPUM, it might be revealing to take a look at TPUM's guiding light.

That's apparently not Tsewang Rigzin of the relatively large (30,000 member) and high profile Tibetan Youth Congress, who is the public face of the Tibetan independence movement.

It's Tenzin Tsundue, who lives the life of an impoverished, itinerant Tibetan independence activist, currently holding no position as far as I can tell in TPUM or its constituent NGOs.

Tenzin Tsundue is a prolific author of poetry and prose who has earned his place as the spokesman for the younger generation of Tibetan exiles, born outside their homeland, frustrated and radicalized by their eroding identity and the political impotence of their elders.

He won an Indian literary prize for a piece of anguished non-fiction, My Kind of Exile, describing the profound alienation of young Tibetan exiles.

One passage provides an interesting perspective on his remarkably strong feelings about the Olympics:

In October 2000 the world was tuned in to the Sydney Olympics. In the hostel, on D-day we were all glued to the TV set eager for the opening ceremony to begin. Halfway into the event I realised that I couldn't see clearly anymore and my face felt wet. I was crying. No, it wasn't the fact that I dearly wished I was in Sydney or the splendour of the atmosphere or the spirit of the games, I tried hard to explain to those around me. But they couldn't understand, couldn't even begin to could they? They belong to a nation. They have never had to conceive of its loss, they have never had to cry for their country. They belonged and had a space of their own not only on the world map but also in the Olympic games. Their countrymen could march proudly, confident of their nationality, in their national dress and with their national flag flying high. I was so happy for them.

'Night comes down, but your stars are missing'

Neruda spoke for me when I was silent, drowned in tears. Quietly watching the rest of the show I was heavy and breathless. They talked about borderlessness and building brotherhood through the spirit of games. From the comfort of home they talked about coming together for one humanity and defying borders. What can I, a refugee, talk about except the wish to go back home?

Tsundue cemented his renown by two high-profile actions targeting high Chinese officials visiting India, which started with daring climbs up skyscrapers to unfurl pro-independence banners, and concluded with his arrest and triumphant release.

He credits the pusillanimous response of the Tibetan government in exile to his harassment by the Indian authorities for catalyzing the five NGOs to come together to form TPUM.

Tsundue cultivates the air of an ascetic—a restless wanderer, owning little more than the clothes on his back, supporting himself by selling books of his poetry from a rucksack--whose holy cause is Tibetan independence.

His signature affectation is a red headscarf bandana that he has vowed not to remove until Tibet is free. He's worn it for eight years now, raising interesting questions of hygiene, mechanics, and textile engineering. The smooth-pated and tidy Dalai Lama apparently greeted him by asking “Don't you feel hot and sweaty on your forehead?”

The picture is of a lone warrior. However, as a recent interview in the Indian magazine Tehelka reveals, Tsundue moved beyond individual action to organizing.

Tsundue was interviewed in the context of the March to Tibet, which sputtered along ignominiously until it ended at the Indian border on June 18, continuously harassed by the Indian authorities but not in a manner heavy-handed enough to attract international attention and sympathy.

Describing his central role in the formation of TPUM, Tsundue said:

His Holiness and the Tibetan government-in-exile don't want confrontation, so some of us began to work on creating internal unity. We worked on bringing the five key Tibetan NGOS together. There has never been a common programme between them. The Youth Congress, which is the largest outfit, is committed to total freedom, while the Women's Association, which is the second largest, is closer to His Holiness' 'middle way' position and wants only autonomy. It took months of discussion before we presented an idea which brought people together. The idea was to march back to Tibet. We were going back to our own country. ...So on January 4 this year, we announced the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement and the march to Tibet. Right up to February, the government said it was disassociating itself from the NGOs. But there was such a swell in public mood they were forced to say they are willing to work with us. This is a major turn of events.

As noted above, Tsundue apparently took a pro-active role to ensure that Tsewang Rigzin, sympathetic to his strategy, was elected head of the Tibetan Youth Congress.

In the article, Tsundue repeatedly affirms his commitment to non-violence, stating that this is one point on which he and the Dalai Lama are in agreement.

However, in a 2005 New York Times Sunday Magazine profile, The Restless Children of the Dalai Lama, (which also notes in passing his already strong preoccupation with the Beijing Olympics) he indicated to a sympathetic interviewer that he did not consider nonviolence as a Buddhist imperative he was bound to honor under all circumstances. His commitment to non-violence is less than absolute and, in a certain light, looks rather situational:

One evening at the Peace Cafe, [Tsundue] told me that he could not rule out violence as a last resort. "Seeking Buddhahood," he said, "is one thing, and freedom for a country is another. We are fighting for freedom in the world and not freedom from the world."


Tsundue ...said that he could not identify Tibetan culture exclusively with Buddhism and that the preference for nonviolent politics could also become an excuse for passivity and inaction. "Our leaders quote Gandhi," Tsundue said. "But Gandhi saw British rule in India as an act of violence and said that resistance to it was a duty. I see the Chinese railway to Lhasa as a similar act of violence. What's wrong with blowing up a few bridges? How can such resistance be termed wrong and immoral?"

In the 2008 Tehelka article, he returns to the issue of non-violence, drawing a distinction between the Dalai Lama's commitment to non-violence and non-confrontation with Gandhi's willingness to confront the British.

And Tsundue went a step beyond Gandhi.

Asked to name his influences, he cited Gandhi...and Bhagat Singh.

A scramble to Wikipedia reveals that Bhagat Singh was a fire-eating advocate of Indian independence martyred by the British at the age of 24 in 1931, entitled to the title of Shaheed, and a posthumous hero to militant pro-independence Indian youth.

Singh, an atheist-anarchist-socialis
t, had rather shaky non-violent credentials. He threw a bomb into the Indian assembly, apparently to attract attention but not wanting to hurt anybody.

However, after arrest he was tried and executed by the British for a previously botched assassination he had committed, botched unfortunately not in the way of not succeeding, but in killing the wrong police administrator in trying to avenge the beating death of a leading activist during a non-violent protest.

The waters are further muddied by apparently unsubstantiated allegations by militants that Gandhi didn't employ his enormous influence with the British Raj to commute Singh's sentence, instead allowing him to go to his death.

Readers are welcome to unpack the parallels: Singh/Tsundue vs. Gandhi/Dalai Lama as they see fit. One author went the distance and spiked the metaphorical ball in the end zone, declaring Tsundue the Tibetan independence movement's “Che Guerva [sic]/Gandhi love child.”

An injudicious interview by the TYC's Tsewang Rigzin with Corriere della Serra in March reinforces a sense of TPUM's ambivalence about non-violence, describing pacifism as “a blind alley”, international sympathy as useless, and an alternate future in which Tibetan emigres turn to Palestinian-style violence.

It appears that Tsundue's doctrine does not involve simple non-violence. It involves non-violent confrontation with the option for righteous violence in self-defence if the opponent escalates the situation.

And that would fit in with a risky maneuver to encourage Buddhist monks in Lhasa to stage a courageous, non-violent, silent protest that would perhaps trigger a confrontation and widespread unrest throughout the Tibetan areas of the PRC—and provide an electrifying context, perhaps including a flood of refugees surging toward India, for the appearance of a brave band of Tibetan independence activists marching toward their homeland just as the eyes of the world are on China and its painstakingly choreographed Olympic torch photo-op in Lhasa.

I'm just speculating, of course. TPUM never set objectives for the March to Tibet, preferring to respond ad hoc to the facts on the ground.

In the event, the situation inside the PRC descended into violence so quickly—and with enough enthusiastic participation by anti-PRC Tibetans—to utterly obscure any potential narrative of a courageous, non-violent confrontation by the monks of Lhasa.

And the Chinese swept aside any political agenda for the confrontation, framing the unrest in terms of riot, sedition, and terrorism, and undoubtedly putting irresistible pressure on the Indian government to rein in Dharmsala and let TPUM and its march wither on the vine.

A question from Tehelka's reporter prompts an interesting revelation from Tsundue concerning his state of mind during the march:

How did you get these burns on both your hands?
Cigarettes. I did it to myself in jail a few weeks ago. I had a very troubling time. We had started on our march from Dharamsala, we were arrested on the fourth day. ... What was most frustrating was that while we were hearing that the whole of Tibet was rising up and the Chinese police was butchering them, I was supposed to be in a free country but I was in jail and couldn’t do anything. We were in jail for 14 days; all 14 days, people were being killed in Tibet. It was a most frustrating time. I urged our leaders to call a hunger strike so things would go out of hand and the police would have to release us. But they thought this would further aggravate the situation and create tension. I said, this is the time to create tension, but they said it would lead to more problems. So it was a very difficult time.

But why burn yourself? Was that to internalise the anger?
Yes, I think so (Long silence). It's not just anger but also how to maintain peace (Laughs).

The picture I get is not of peace. Or for that matter, anger.

I see despair.

The despair of a man who has tried to will a viable independence movement into existence by the force of his intellect, energy, and personality...but who now finds himself humiliatingly incarcerated in an Indian jail while a longed-for confrontation inside Lhasa, instead of yielding catharsis, unity, and triumph, quickly descended (no doubt with a helpful shove from the Chinese) into chaos and bloodshed.

I wonder how Tsundue felt on June 21, after the PRC government was able to conduct its Olympic torch run through Lhasa.

Three days earlier, the Long Marchers, shrunk to a core of 57 people, tried to enter the Indian border town of Darchula opposite Tibet. Surrounded by Indian police, the marchers broke into groups of four and tried to enter the town.

They were arrested by Indian police and subsequently released. The March to Tibet was over.

Tsundue was apparently not there. He was embroiled in legal proceedings in the city of Dehra pertaining to his arrest in the early stage of the march.

Despite brave talk of the value of the March to Tibet as a consciousness-raising exercise, it looks more like a demoralizing defeat, whose most dire consequences will be felt by the Tibetan exiles themselves, and not the PRC.

It turns out the Dalai Lama had asked the marchers to abandon their action and they rebuffed him, exacerbating the existing division between young militants and older moderates, no doubt to Beijing's delight.

One can probably add to that problem fresh fissures within the pro-independence coalition itself as the costs of the quixotic exercise are tallied up, and the strategy, tactics, and judgment of the movement's leaders are called into question, perhaps even by the leaders themselves.

The burns on his hands may not be the only scars Tenzin Tsundue carries away from this ordeal.


TIBET : true or false?
Test how the media informed you
Mila Marcos and Michel Collon

The goal of these media tests is neither to shock nor create a scandal. All beliefs deserve respect. The goal is to allow each of us to determine for ourselves a decisive question: is what I believe based on reliable information? Or did someone try to manipulate public opinion on these big questions?

What makes a good judge? Someone who listens attentively to the contending parties, leaves her prejudices outside, makes up her own mind, and checks the reliability of each document, of each witness. Wouldn't a media reader or viewer find it helpful to follow this same method?


FALSE. Religious doctrines imposed the superior position of the rich noble and the inferior position of the impoverished peasant, the low-ranking monk, the slave and all women, presenting this ranking as the inevitable outcome of karmic virtues and vices of successive former lives.

This religious ideology justified a feudal class order: serfs worked without pay for life on the grounds of the lord or the monastery, unable to move without permission. All life events--marriage, death, birth, a religious festival, to own an animal, to plant a tree, to dance, or to enter or leave prison--were pretexts for heavy taxes. Debts passed from father to son and to grandson. Those who failed to pay were reduced to slavery.

Fugitives and thieves were tracked by a small professional army. Favorite punishments: tearing out the tongue or the eye, slicing the tendon at the knee, etc. There tortures were not ended until 1959, at the time of democratic reforms decided in Beijing.


FALSE. The term “invasion” assumes that there are two countries. However, since the 13th century, the Mongols had annexed Tibet to China. As of the 17th century, it was one of the eighteen provinces of the Chinese Empire. And each new Dalai Lama received his “seal” of office from the Chinese Emperor.

At the end of the 19th century, the British Empire invaded Tibet and installed its trade representatives there. The thirteenth Dalai Lama took advantage of this to assert Tibet's independence. No Chinese party nor any country in the world took this request seriously. As of 1949, the U.S. State Department still declared Tibet and Taiwan integral parts of China.

This all changed when, led by Mao Zedong, China became socialist. The same U.S. State Department then wrote: “Tibet has become strategically and ideologically important. Since the independence of Tibet can aid the fight against Communism, it is of our interest to recognize it as independent rather than regarding it as belonging to China.” But, it added: “The situation would change if a government in exile is created. In this case, it is in our interest to support it without recognizing Tibet's independence. To recognize the independence of Tibet, yes or no, is not the true question. It is about our attitude towards China.”


FALSE. In 1951, Beijing and the local government of Tibet signed an accord on the peaceful liberation of Tibet. The Dalai Lama wrote a poem about the glory of President Mao Zedong and telegraphed him: “The local government, the lamas and the lay population of Tibet unanimously support the accord of 17 articles." It is within this framework that the Peoples Liberation Army entered Tibet.

The agreement foresaw the continuation of serfdom in Tibet under the authority of the Dalai Lama. The monasteries, the Dalai Lama and the officials would keep their possessions: 70 percent of the land. Beijing would control military questions and international relations. The local Tibetan government, composed of lamas and lords, negotiated and accepted the agreement. The Dalai Lama took the post of vice-president of the Parliament of all China, which he accepted without problems.

4. ”IN 1959, 83.000 DIED IN THE BATTLE OF LHASA.”

FALSE. To understand the sequence of events: while in Tibet, eastern feudalism continued, in the neighboring provinces where minorities Tibetans coexist with of Han, Hui, Yi, Naxi, Qiang, Mongols…, land reform got underway at the beginning of the 1950s. The lands of the great landowners were confiscated and redistributed to the poor peasants. With few conflicts, as the socialist State pays an income to the ex-owners. Resistance came from Tibetan lamas and nobility in these areas. They refuse to give up their privileges.

In 1956, they launched an armed rebellion starting from the monastery of Litang in Sichuan province. After skirmishes with the Red Army, a part of the Tibetan elite of Sichuan flees to Tibet and spreads rumors of “red terror.” From the beginning, the CIA financed and supported the uprising. Armed militia were trained in Colorado, parachuted into Tibet, and supplied with weapons by air. The bloody events of this period were indeed a struggle of the privileged classes, organized by the CIA.

In 1959, the rumor that,“The Chinese will kidnap the Dalai Lama,” sparked a large demonstration in Lhasa. In reality, the CIA had already organized the Dalai Lama's flight towards India. The demonstrators lynched some Tibetan officials, and the Red Army crushed the riot. How many deaths in Lhasa? Three thousand according to testimonies collected by the political economist Henry Bradsher (pro-independence). Sixty-five thousand, claimed the Dalai Lama in 1959. Then, it will pass to eighty-seven thousand. However, at that time Lhasa only had a maximum of forty thousand inhabitants. It is true that after the riot, ten thousand Tibetans were sent to spend eight months doing forced labor to build the first hydro-electric power station in Ngchen. But the unsubstantiated figures continued to circulate. In 1984, the Tibetan government in exile used the figure of « 432.000 Tibetains dead during the battles with the Red Army between 1949 and 1979 » !


TRUE. Starting in 1949, the United States tried to convince the Dalai Lama to go into exile, with the assistance of his two brothers (recruited by the CIA in 1951) and of the German adviser Heinrich Harrer (former SS). It would take ten years before he agreed to take refuge in India with the layer of privileged dignitaries who will make up the exiled Tibetan community.

But neighboring India hardly wanted to grant him asylum. President Eisenhower then proposed to introduce 400 Indian engineers to U.S. nuclear technology. The Indian leader Nehru accepted this deal. In 1974, first Indian A-bomb was given the cynical nickname of “smiling Buddha”.


FALSE. Two major facts contradict this figure, which the Western world has accepted without proof for thirty years.

1. The Tibetan population pyramid in 1953 was estimated as at maximum 2.5 million inhabitants in Tibet and in neighboring provinces. If 1.2 million Tibetans had been killed between 1951 and the beginning of the 70s, most of Tibet would have been depopulated. And there would be a great imbalance between men and women. But demographers note no such anomaly and the population doubled to almost six million Tibetans in China today.

2. The only person who had access to the files of the Tibetan government in exile was Patrick French, when he directed Free Tibet in London. Documents in hand, French concluded that the evidence of the “ Tibetan genocide” had been falsified. The battles of 1959 had been counted several times and the figures of deaths added in the margins afterwards. He denounced this falsification, but the figure continued to circulate in the world…


TRUE. Between 1966 and 1976, all religious practices were prohibited not only in Tibet, but in all China. The monasteries were closed, the monks had to return to their families of origin and devote themselves to productive work, primarily farming. It is not true that all the temples and monasteries were "razed to the ground." But the Red Guards, young Tibetan intellectuals who followed the general movement in China, destroyed many objects of worship.

When that turned chaotic, the army stepped in and restored social and economic order. The Chinese government publicly admitted the errors of this period and financed the restoration of all Tibet's religious patrimony. The monasteries were repopulated. Two thousand lamaseries were restored and are functioning in China.


FALSE. The Dalai Lama represents neither Zen Buddhism (Japan), nor Southeast Asian Buddhism, nor Chinese Buddhism. In fact, Tibetan Buddhism represents less than 2 percent of the world's Buddhists. In Tibet itself, there are four separate Buddhist sects, the Dalai Lama belonging to one of them, the gelugpa (yellow bonnets).

When he visited London in 1992, the largest British Buddhist organization accused him of being a “pitiless dictator” and an “oppressor of religious freedom.” This “Pope” seems to have few religious disciples, but many political followers…


TRUE. Although he had recently said he would be satisfied with a kind of autonomy, in his books, he claims a “Grand Tibet,” double the size of that where the Dalai Lamas exerted local political power in the past. This territory would incorporate the whole province of Qinghai and the parts of the provinces Gansu, Yunnan and Sichuan, in which one finds Tibetan minorities among other nationalities.

By what methods? By driving out the non-Tibetan populations? Practicing ethnic cleansing? Yes. The Dalai Lama declared textually in the U.S. Congress in 1987: “7.5 million settlers must leave.” It is not a question of settlers, because the populations of these areas have been mixed for centuries. In any case, this expansionist project would carry out what all the colonial powers have sought to do for 150 years: to dismember China.


FALSE. The Tibetan movement indeed receives such gifts, but its principal financier is the government of the United States. Between 1959 and 1972, the CIA poured $1.7 million into the “Tibetan government in exile” and $180,000 dollars per annum for the Dalai Lama. This he denied for a long time, but ended up acknowledging it.

From then on and still today, the payments were more discreet, through cover organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy, Tibet Fund, State Department's Democracy Bureau… Another important sponsor: George Soros through Albert Einstein Institute, directed until recently by ex-colonel Robert Helvey of the U.S. secret services.


TRUE. Ruling U.S. circles see China as their principal enemy. Now China is certainly an essential economic partner, but also, in the long term, a principal factor resisting U.S. world domination. The USA predict that China will catch them up as a world power about 2030. They must then absolutely prevent Asians from creating a Common Market tied to China that would evade U.S. control.

These people dream that they can break up China as they did the USSR. Their goal is to control the economic wealth, the labor power and the largest market of the world. To weaken China, the U.S. has a two-track strategy. On the one hand, to encircle China with military bases. In addition, to encourage separatist movements and all kinds of opposition. They begin with media demonization campaigns. That's why they invest greatly in the question of Tibet.


TRUE. British police arrested Pinochet in England, based on an international warrant for crimes against humanity issued by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón. In this occasion, the Dalai Lama actively recommended the British government to release him and stop him from being tried. Pinochet also was a long-term employee of the CIA.

The Dalai Lama is indeed a pawn of the United States. In 2007, George Bush presented the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award given by the U.S. Congress. His holiness praised Bush for his efforts in the whole world on behalf of freedom, democracy and human rights. He called the United States “a champion of democracy and freedom.”


FALSE. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) presents itself as a defender of freedom for journalists, and many of its small contributors believe they are supporting an independent and objective organization. But the funds for helping oppressed journalists amounts to only 7 percent of the total budget. The remainder goes to political campaigns.

Behind these campaigns is dirty money. Actually, the boss at RSF, Robert Ménard, uses a double standard when he defends human rights. He criticizes Venezuela and Cuba by distorting facts? Why? He received financings from the Cuban counterrevolutionaries in Miami. He criticizes China for his policy in Tibet? Why? He received 100.000 dollars from the anti-communists of Taiwan. On the other hand, he is more than timid towards the United States, which killed the greatest number of journalists these last few years. Why? He is financed by the CIA through the NED as we already mentioned.

Similarly, Ménard forced RSF to cease criticizing the French media. Why? He is supported financially by the largest French media and some large multinationals. Moreover, the NMPP (owned partially by Lagardere) distribute his albums free. You don't bite the hand that feeds you. Ménard had to admit in 2001: “How, for example,could we organize a debate on the concentration of the press and then ask Havas or Hachette to sponsor it?”

Despite all these suspect financial arrangements, the majority of the mass media continue to relay Ménard's words massively. On the other hand, UNESCO ceased supporting him, explaining that, “RSF had shown on several occasions an absence of ethics by treating certain countries with very little objectivity.”


FALSE. Actually, Tibet for a long time has been an autonomous area. Since the 1980s, the culture and the religion of Tibet are practiced freely, children are bilingual, institutes studying Tibet have been opened, lamas, including young children, fill the monasteries. In the streets, believers happily spin their prayer wheels. The language Tibetan is spoken and written by many more people than before the revolution. There are a hundred literary magazines in Tibet. Even Foreign Office magazine, close to the U.S. State Department, acknowledged that 60 to 70 percent of the civil servants are from the Tibetan ethnic group and that bilingualism is common.

In addition, Tibetan culture also experienced new growth in the remainder of China, especially in the fields of language, literature, studies of the everyday life and traditional architecture. China published major collections of books, newspapers and magazines in the Tibetan language. Many publishing houses exist not only in Tibet but also in Beijing. “Cultural genocide” is a political propaganda myth.


FALSE. All the Western witnesses present on the spot, including journalist James Miles (The Economist) and many tourists attest to it: the violence was started by young Tibetans who the lamas encouraged to commit destructive acts.

These were criminal acts programmed in a racist manner. Several groups, all armed in the same manner (Molotov cocktails, stones, steel bars, and butcher's knives), all operating in the same way, were spread around Lhasa, and sowed panic by attacking Han (Chinese) and Hui (Moslems). Civilians were burned alive, others beaten to death or cut up. Nineteen died and more than three hundred were wounded. Schools, hospitals and hotels were attacked. Many older Tibetans aided the victims and saved lives.

When these racist violences were exposed, the partisans of the Dalaï-Lama claimed that it was all the work of Chinese soldiers disguised as monks, circulating an alleged “satellite” photograph that was supposed to prove it. We showed that this photograph was a coarse forgery.

The police force and the Chinese army initially remained extremely passive before intervening in force to put an end to the riots. How many became victims there at this time? The Western media spread the figure (“hundreds”) advanced by the partisans of the Dalai Lama.
Some of those the Tibetan government in exile declared “dead” are quite alive today in Tibet. Others were called “Dupont, Charleroi” without being more precise. Other names raised do not exist. The argument goes on.

Translated from french by John Catalinotto