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?
1. "BEFORE THE CHINESE INVASION, THE TIBETAN PEOPLE LIVED IN HARMONY WITH THEIR NOBILITY IN A SOCIAL ORDER INSPIRED BY RELIGIOUS TEACHINGS."
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.
2. “IN 1951, CHINA INVADED TIBET.”
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.”
3. “AS SOON AS SOCIALIST CHINA TOOK OVER THE DIRECTION IN 1951, THE DALAI-LAMA AND THE TIBETAN NOBILITY LOST ALL THEIR POLITICAL POWER IN TIBET."
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 » !
5. “INDIA INITIALLY REFUSED TO GRANT THE DALAI-LAMA POLITICAL ASYLUM."
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”.
6. “THE CHINESE OCCUPATION CAUSED THE VIOLENT DEATH OF 1.2 MILLION TIBETANS."
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…
7. “RELIGIOUS PRACTICE WAS PROHIBITED DURING THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION.”
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.
8. “THE DALAI-LAMA IS A SORT OF POPE OF WORLD BUDDHISM.”
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…
9. “THE DALAI LAMA CLAIMS A QUARTER OF CHINA'S TERRITORY.”
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.
10. “DONATION FROM CHARITABLE AND HUMANITARIAN NGO'S FINANCE THE TIBETAN MOVEMENT.”
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.
11. “THE SUPPORT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DALAI LAMA IS JUSTIFIED BY STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES."
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.
12. “THE DALAI LAMA PUBLICLY DEFENDED THE FORMER FASCIST DICTATOR OF CHILE AUGUSTO PINOCHET.”
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.”
13. “REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS GIVES DISINTERESED SUPPORT TO THE DALAI LAMA."
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.”
14. “CHINA IS COMMITTING CULTURAL GENOCIDE IN TIBET.”
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.
15. “THE CONFRONTATIONS OF MARCH 14, 2008 IN LHASA OCCURRED BECAUSE THE POLICE FORCE AND THE CHINESE ARMY VIOLENTLY REPRESSED A PEACEFUL DEMOSTRATION."
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