Sunday, April 26, 2009

March 10,1959 Truth

According to the Dalai Lama, a peaceful uprising on March 10, 1959 led to his exile. Is that the truth? It's high time some questions are answered today.

Today, China is modernizing. We're exploring Space, developing electric car technology and improving the lives of the ordinary Chinese.

Today, Tibet is also modernizing. Former slaves are now masters of their own destinies. Average life expectancy has almost doubled, from 35.5 in 1959 to 67 years now. Tibet's brand new university protects its glorious culture. Devotion to religions is visible everywhere.

China's journey towards modernization has not been easy. Fending off imperialist aggression was the first order of business. Then China turned inward, first with doubts and then with hope and determination, to rejuvenate an ossified ancient culture, as evidenced by a dying social-political-economic order during the late 1940s. All portend a revolution, to reassert the human rights of the poor, the oppressed, the illiterate, and, in the case of Tibet, the enslaved.

Tibet's journey was not an easy one either. For reforms in Tibet, Beijing took it slow. The 1951 17-Article Agreement states that the political system, including the "functions and power of the Dalai Lama", remains just as it was, and "shall carry out reforms of its own accord". To celebrate this agreement, Beijing, in 1954, rolled out the red carpet for the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama to a fanfare welcome. The Dalai Lama's sincere patriotic stance then was contagious. China's unbroken de jure sovereignty over Tibet was made de facto, once again, as a customary transfer of power to the new regime.

This "go-slow" policy was deferential to Tibet's unique social structure. Unlike other Chinese regions, Tibet was a theocratic feudal serfdom. Before the 1959 democratic reforms, 95 percent of Tibetans were brutally maltreated serfs owned by the ruling elite - monastery lamas, aristocrats, and local officials. Serf-slaves were reincarnated to do penance for past-life demerits by providing absolute subservient service to the elite, those who reincarnated well, like the Dalai Lama.

The owners had no responsibility for the serfs' maintenance, no interest in their survival. They worked without pay, and yet had to support themselves and pay exploitative taxes. Old Tibet was "hell on earth", which made slavery of medieval Europe and America look pale by comparison. The Dalai Lama's March 10, 2009 description of modern Tibet as "hell on earth" is pure sophistry.

In 1978, he said: "If the six million Tibetans in Tibet are really happy and prosperous as never before, there is no reason for us to argue otherwise." What went through his mind about the slaves under his command?

To allow slavery in the 20th century was unconscionable. It had to be abolished. Beijing insisted on self-initiated reforms, as agreed. But, in the end, the elite and the Dalai Lama failed to deliver. His 50-year saga of self-exile resulted from this failure.

For the elite, life was good and they wanted no change. But they committed to reform. What should be done? The separatist sentiment then surfaced, and outside contacts were made.

In 1951, Loy Wesley Henderson, then the US Ambassador to India, hurled out the first cold war salvo against China. He covertly offered support if the Dalai Lama would denounce the 1951 Agreement and exile to India to pursue a separatist agenda. Some elite liked the idea, but the Dalai Lama wavered. Then the CIA went to work. Dalai's two older brothers and a band of monks were trained in Saipan and Camp Hale, Colorado. Secret parachute drops into Tibet began.

In 1956, the Dalai Lama was in India for a Buddhist conference. The Dalai brothers schemed to retain him. Premier Zhou Enlai went to India and met the Dalai Lama and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru regarding this scheme. The Dalai Lama wavered again, took his time, heard his brothers, but eventually returned to Lhasa safely on his own accord.

It was already 1958, no self-generated reforms surfaced. The elite knew that time was running out. The CIA simply wanted the Dalai Lama to ask openly for outside help. The Dalai brothers urged. Once more, he wavered.

Then everything came to a head in 1959. The Dalai Lama, as a set up, requested for a military troupe performance on March 10. There was a rumor a day earlier that he had been abducted. On March 10, he did not show up, and Lhasa was surrounded by armed riotous separatists.

He sent out three letters to say that he was restricted. On March 17 midnight, he was escorted into the Lhasa darkness. The "government in exile" was hurriedly set up before they crossed into India on March 31.

Beijing did not pursue, but kept open his official title until 1964, just in case he wavers again. According to researcher A. Tom Grunfield, the whole episode was the handy work of the CIA. Henderson's cold war wish of 1951 was finally realized in 1959.

On March 28, 1959, Beijing formally ended political association with the Lhasa elite. On that day, over a million serfs were freed. Democratic reforms continued.

The Tibet Autonomous Region was established in 1965. March 28 became the Slave Emancipation Day. The rest is history.

The 1959 "peaceful uprising" is a myth created by the Dalai Lama to justify his exile and the independence cause. Two things are signified here. Point one, he failed to tell the world that the "uprising" was staged and the exile was self-induced, made possible by foreign machination and impelled by his refusal to liberate serfs.

Even more serious, he failed to acknowledge that, in his absence, China made the ultimate affirmation of human rights in the 20th century by emancipating over a million Tibetan slaves in 1959. In this regard, his claim that China killed 1.2 million Tibetans was a pure fabrication. If that were the case, there would be no serfs left to liberate, since the 1953 Tibet census count was only 1.274 million.

Point two, the Dalai Lama, by choice and despite Beijing's forbearance, missed being on the right side of history.

Due to his youth and inexperience, the Dalai Lama repeatedly wavered between the selfless Buddhist stance and the selfish practice of the elite. Finally, he made his choice and is facing the consequences since.

Fifty-three years ago in India, Premier Zhou Enlai gave him this sagacious and prophetic advice: As a man of faith you must stay around your monastery in Lhasa. If you stay out, Tibet will reform with or without you. The Dalai Lama has been without a monastery for 50 years. His worldly political possessions, Nobel peace prize notwithstanding, ultimately mean nothing for his next incarnation.

The author teaches philosophy in the United States.

Source: China Daily

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