Latest News & Information on Tibet

Features latest news & information on Tibet and H. H. the Dalai Lama.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

In Hope

It was a Saturday evening. It was quite late and I was dying for a cigarette. I had to search a while to find an open shop, as Dharamsala’s Kalachakra-bound citizens were yet to return. I walked up to what seemed to be a new grocery store and was pleasantly surprised to see an elderly Tibetan behind the counter. I purchased my merchandise and indulged in some small talk with the storekeeper.

“So what is the latest?” the elderly Tibetan asked. “We might soon have to return to Tibet and you, my old man might need to sell your things on discount”, I replied. “Its all due to the mercy of Chenrezig,” the man in reply closed his eyes and folded his hands. “It is an optimistic time,” he murmured as I bid good night.

A little too soon? For then the news came of Lobsang Dhondup’s execution.

Lobsang Dhondup was executed recently by the Chinese on flimsy charges. To date, neither the court nor the Beijing authorities have been able to substantiate or admit to the real reason behind this cruel act.

Lobsang Dhondup was probably shot in the back of his head at point blank range, to make the execution efficient and the result a surety. Probably his passing away was quick. Maybe it was painless. But I am sure it was terrifying. A close friend asked, “I wonder what was on his mind, right at that moment?” I shudder to think.

What would be going through the mind of a young man, condemned to die for something he did not do. Condemned to death for the sake of an occupying forces’ politics and power games. Sure, he is far from the first Tibetan to die for such reasons, and even further from being the first ever person to die in this manner, but when it is your life that is forfeit, I am sure that those facts are not the ones foremost in your mind at the time. Was he wondering why was he being executed? Why he was the one picked? Was he a victim of the new leadership in Beijing, wanting to send a clear political message?

What would it feel like to walk across the killing ground to the last place you would stand in this life? Or did they just come into his cell and end it there? Buddhism teaches the cycle of life, the turning path of our lifetimes, but as one not extensively trained in the high reaches of monastic disciplines, how much fear was there during his last moments, hours, days? Or in the end, did he see himself dying for his country and proud to offer literally everything he had for this cause?

The truth? Well, of course we will never know, or come anywhere close to knowing. I wondered about simpler things. Lobsang Dhondup’s young life was cut short by the Chinese - he was but 28 years of age He was just few months older than me, living in a country that I have never yet seen. What dreams might he have had? What plans? Where did he think his future was going to take him? To the gallows or to a Free Tibet? To a life later in exile, or a quiet existence watching his family grow up around him? Had he hoped to become a successful businessman, and if so, where would that have led him? Or was he content living each day as it came?

I have lived my life in exile, aware of the Tibetan situation since young. My hopes, my dreams; they may be similar to those of my friends’ here around me, they may not. How different are they though to those of my brethren living inside my unseen homeland? I have an education, many of them do not. I can speak out about what I think without fear of ending up incarcerated, or dead like Lobsang Dhondup. Many within Tibet are politically active, like us here, but run far greater risks. So how do our dreams, our thoughts, our lives differ? Do we see the same futures, the same dreams, but through different eyes? Or do we see different dreams and a different future through the same eyes? Will we meet in our current lifetimes? Will we ever get the chance to compare our thoughts, our hopes, our passions?

I have to believe that we will. I have to believe that all that we fight for, all the suffering that so many have endured, all that so many have sacrificed, will achieve what we aim for in the end, in the not too far distant future. I want to know that lives given have not been used up and thrown away, but are pebbles on the road to freedom. I believe that all the work that I, that my friends, that so many around the world have contributed, will succeed in the end. That the efforts, dreams, and deeds of thousands will prevail, that sanity and peace will return to the high plateau and deep river valleys. And that I will see my homeland, that I will meet my family, my unknown cousins, and my yet un-met friends. That one day we will sit together in the high, rocky mountains around my father’s village and discuss our thoughts, our dreams, and our new plans for the future.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tears of Regret Flow Uncontrollably

When a girl of fifteen is not sent to school but is given over to the milk
When a charming, slender girl does not marry but is used by a swindler;
When a beautiful bride does not fit into her new household and is abandoned
to roam in unknown, distant lands-
Oh - how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When a white-haired old man does not know the alphabet but recites mantras
for this life and the next;
When a white-toothed young man does not know the four vowels but adorns his
chest with gold ornaments;
When a pure-hearted monk does not know how to punctuate sentences but
conducts rituals in the home-
Oh-how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the children of farmers and herders aren't sent to school but spend
their time with flocks of goats and sheep;
When the schoolyard is empty of students but full of grass and weeds;
When the classroom walls crumble in the rain while the teacher revels in
Oh-how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the field of culture is trampled under the hooves of those who
disparage it;
When the flower garden of education withers in the drought of
When the peachlike face of literature is infested by swarms of ravenous
Oh-how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the broad heart of the snowy mountains is covered with filthy dust and
When the courageous peaks of the rocky mountains are split apart by
black-beaked crows;
When the wisdom of the grassy mountains' fertile slopes is undermined by
thousands of gophers-
Oh-how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the stallion of progress and knowledge is bound tightly by the hobbles
of domination;
When the white yak of freedom is chained by the nose to a hybrid yak-cow and
made subservient to her;
When the sheep of peace and happiness are exploited for profit and sheared
again and again-
Oh-how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When incomparable geniuses wander as beggars in foreign lands;
When unprecedented idiots sit upon the thrones of brilliant scholars;
When savages control the wise and knowledgeable-
Oh-how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the pure river of an untainted history is contaminated with the salty
water of distortion;
When the unblemished vow on the face of a stone monument is defaced with
one-sided views;
When the incomparably white pool of the five sciences becomes the playground
for lying frogs-
Oh-how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

-- Lhagyal Tsering

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Invasion of Tibet and fall of Chamdo

On October 1, 1949 the People’s Republic of China was founded. Soon after, Radio Beijing began to announce that “the People’s Liberation Army must liberate all Chinese territories, including Tibet, Xinjiang, Hainan and Taiwan.” In response, the Tibetan Foreign Office wrote to Mao Zedong on November 2, 1949 to say that “Tibet has from the earliest times up to now been an independent country whose political administration had never been taken over by any foreign country; and Tibet also defended her own territories from foreign invasions.”(4) The Foreign Office letter asked for direct negotiations for the return of Tibetan territories annexed by China’s earlier governments. Copies of this letter were sent to the Government of India, Great Britain and United States. But these governments advised Tibet to enter into direct negotiations with China as any other course of action might provoke military retaliation.

In the meanwhile, the PLA marched into eastern Tibet and circulated a ten-point document, asking Tibetans to cooperate with China in “liberating” Tibet from foreign imperialists. This struck as a curious statement to the Tibetan government who knew that there were fewer than ten foreigners in the country. It responded by making a series of radio announcements stating that there were no foreign imperialists on Tibetan soil, that Tibet had never been part of China, and that if China invaded Tibet just as big insects eat small ones, Tibet would fight back even if it were reduced to the female population.(5)

At the same time, the Tibetan government decided to send a delegation, consisting of two senior officials—Tsepon W.D. Shakabpa and Tsechag Thubten Gyalpo—and five assistants to negotiate with the PRC in a third country, possibly the USSR, Singapore or Hong Kong. China suggested Hong Kong as the venue, to which the Tibetan government agreed and directed its delegation to discuss the Foreign Office letter to Chairman Mao Zedong and the threatening Chinese radio announcements about an imminent “liberation of Tibet”. The government also instructed the delegation to secure the Chinese assurance that the territorial integrity of Tibet would not be violated, and to drive home the point that Tibet would not tolerate Chinese interference.(6)

On March 7, 1950 the delegates reached Kalimpong en route to Delhi. On reaching Delhi, they ran into an unforeseen problem: the British would not issue them the visas to travel to Hong Kong, probably because they did not want to antagonise China as the visa would have to be stamped on the passport issued by the Tibetan government. Thus, in June 1950 the Tibetan government instructed its delegates to hold negotiations in Delhi. The Chinese did not want this and suggested that the Tibetans should come to Beijing after a preliminary round of talks in Delhi with their new Ambassador to India.(7)

In the course of the negotiation, the Chinese Ambassador, Yuan Zhong Xian, demanded that the Tibetan delegation accept a three-point proposal: i) Tibet should be recognised as part of China ii) Tibetan national defence will be handled by China; iii) Tibet’s political and trade relations with foreign countries must be conducted through China. They were then to proceed to Beijing in confirmation of the “agreement”.

The Tibetan government instructed the delegates to reject the Chinese proposal, particularly the first point. So the negotiation was suspended. By then China had already started its military offensive on Chamdo, eastern Tibet’s provincial capital. It happened on October 7, 1950 when Commanders Wang Qimei and Zhang Guohua led 40,000 PLA troops from the South-West Military Region in an eight-pronged attack on Chamdo. The Tibetan force, numbering 8,000 troops, engaged the PLA troops in fierce battles. By October 19 the Tibetans had fought 21 battles and lost over 5,700 men.(8) Chamdo fell to the PLA and Kalon Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, provincial governor, was captured.(9)

The Chinese aggression came as a rude shock to India. In a sharp note to Beijing on October 26, 1950, the Indian Foreign Ministry wrote: “Now that the invasion of Tibet has been ordered by Chinese government, peaceful negotiations can hardly be synchronised with it and there naturally will be fear on the part of Tibetans that negotiations will be under duress. In the present context of world events, invasion by Chinese troops of Tibet cannot but be regarded as deplorable and in the considered judgement of the Government of India, not in the interest of China or peace.”(10) A number of countries, including the United States and Britain, expressed their support for the Indian position.

Back in Lhasa, the Tibetan Government decided to secure the UN mediation on Tibet’s behalf. It wrote to the UN Secretary General on November 11, 1950, appealing for the world body’s intervention. The letter said, in part: “Tibet recognises that it is in no position to resist the Chinese advance. It is thus that it agreed to negotiate on friendly terms with the Chinese Government...Though there is little hope that a nation dedicated to peace will be able to resist the brutal effort of men trained to war, we understand that the United Nations has decided to stop aggression wherever it takes place.”(11)

The Tibetan National Assembly convened an emergency session and requested the Dalai Lama, only fifteen (12) at that time, to assume full authority as head of state and move his government temporarily to Dromo (Yatung), near the Indian border, so that he would be out of personal danger. At the same time the Tibetan Foreign Office issued the following statement: “Tibet is united as one man behind the Dalai Lama who has taken over full powers ... We have appealed to the world for peaceful intervention in (the face of this) clear case of unprovoked aggression.”(13)

On November 17, 1950 the Dalai Lama assumed power at a formal ceremony and wrote to Mao Zedong: “The relationship between Tibet and China has deteriorated during my minority. Now that I have taken responsibility, I wish to revive the past harmonious relationship between us.” The Dalai Lama asked Mao to release the Tibetan prisoners of war and withdraw Chinese troops from the Tibetan territory.(14)

On that very day El Salvador formally asked that the aggression against Tibet be put on the UN General Assembly agenda. However, the issue was not discussed in the UN General Assembly at the suggestion of the Indian delegation who asserted that a peaceful solution which was mutually advantageous to Tibet, India and China could be reached between the parties concerned. A second letter by the Tibetan delegation to the United Nations on December 8, 1950 did not change the situation.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Between homeland and exile

An exile's return to his homeland is about the encounter between exile and homeland; it affords an opportunity to look at exile.

For the first time since the Chinese occupation, Tibet opened to the world in the early'80s. in the first year, probably more Westerner set foot in Tibet than had ever in all its history. For the first time after 30 years, relatives inside and outside Tibet were meeting. Like the Berlin Wall coming down, it was a very dramatic and exciting time.

I was a student in America then. I remember the small group of Tibetans gathering at he Office of Tibet to listen with great emotion to those who returned from visiting Tibet recounts their experience. Tibet was hardly ever in the media then, in the United States or anywhere else.

For me, awareness of who I was a Tibetan and an exile came relatively late, when I was in college in America. I had spent most of my childhood, most of 10 years, ensconced in a Presbyterian boarding school in Kalimpong near Darjeeling Dr. Graham's Homes had been founder for orphans of Anglo-Indians, so I grew up mainly with Anglo-Indians, but also Bhutanese, Sikkimese, other Tibetans, Nepalis, Nagas, Lushai, Khansi.

In college in America I read vociferously books about Tibet, and studied some Buddhist philosophy with Robert Thurman. It was with such bookish knowledge that I discovered and began to articulate my identity as a Tibetan. Sheer passion marked my knowledge for Tibet, albeit from a distance. And passion and distance often defines the exile.

In 1985, a few years after I returned to Kathmandu, my chance came to go to Tibet. Ironically, it was as a tour guide, an appointment that seemed to mock the gravitas of my exile identity.

At the outset of my trip an incident occurred that was to foreshadow my later journey to my hometown. I met my first Tibetans at a temple in Chengdu where we were sighseeing before flying into Tibet. There were crowds of Chinese tourists. Since religion had been banned for three or four decades, the Buddhist temple was an exotica. Out of the milling crowds emerged a Tibetan family. They were wearing Tibetan clothing, the woment's braided hair sported turquoise and amber. They were obviously exotic to the Chinese, who were following them. Someone from my group said, "Wow! Who are they?"

Excited, I approached them. To my utter surprise, they spoke to me in Chinese. I tried again they spoke back in Chinese. Finally, the man acknowledged in Tibetan that they were Tibetan, and then reverted to Chinese. I walked away disappointed, disturbed.

In 1987 I finally visited my hometown, Gyelthang. It is farflung in the southeastern tip of the Tibetan plateau, 1,600 km from Lhasa. Like most of Kham, it is now part of a Chinese province, Yunnan. It is close to Chinese lands, near the homes of numerous ethnic groups called "minority nationalities" by the Chinese. I didn't know much about Gyelthang for I had grown up in exile. The little I knew of it was from my mother- my father having died somewhat young- and my fellow Gyelthang people, who made up my community in exile.

I was going in with a certain notion of Tibet based on an image in exiles' minds. This identity largely subscribed to a hegemonic central Tibetan concept of the Tibetan nation. Thus, even we eastern Tibetans were likely to look to Lhasa, its mountains, monasteries, its lakes and rivers, central Tibetan songs and language, as constituting the components of Tibetan hood.

While the idea of a distinct Tibetan civilisation is powerful and alive, that of Tibet as a perfectly homogenised pan- Tibetan entity took root in exile, primarily a political condition. The identity I had come to assume was, in a sense, generic, shaped by a new kind of nationalism forged in exile.

This was fine and perhaps inevitable, except those outlying, marginal places like Gyelthang had peculiarities that didn't fit into this picture. Thus, aspects of our regional idiosyncrasies and our "local" history were given short shrift.

What the exile Tibetan encounters and reacts to most strongly when he or she sets foot in Tibet is the phenomena of sinicisation, which is all- pervasive- precisely because it shakes up some of our assumptions and idealisations. These features of sinicisation are encountered as part of the daily fabric of life by the Tibetans who took my mediocre Tibetan to be the Lhasa dialect. In the prefectural capital where people held secular jobs, they tended to speak more Chinese than they did Tibetan.

It was evident why that was so. The vehicle of sinicisation was potent, all pervasive, embodied in the institutions of State and society, of the affairs of the public domain, the work culture, schools, post offices, bus stations and bus timings. Because the vocabulary of everyday reality was in Chinese, even those who were fluent in Gyelthang language, more fluent than I was reverted or resorted to Chinese. As for the Gyelthang language, it had been relegated to the hearth, tucked within domestic confines, a reflection of a culture on the retreat.

During my three-month stay, I witnessed the 30th anniversary of the founding of the autonomous prefecture of Dechen, of which my hometown was capital. There was pageantry, a parade of troops in their full regalia; there were horse races, fireworks, openings of new buildings- some in exaggeratedly Tibetan style. Crowds came to the parade, to hear the speeches, to see the fireworks and the balloons, to see the props in technicolour. Exhibits were displayed to mark the progress and the targets to achieve by the year 2000.

I was unnerved by the seeming willingness of the Gyelthang and Dechen folk of partake. Could this be real? Tibetans celebrating the Chinese consolidation of their presence in Tibet? Could they not see through the bluff, I wondered. On the other hand, they seemed-light-hearted. Was it just a mela, a tamasha, as it might be called in India, a happening of no significance?

On my last night, at a family dinner, one of my cousins handed me a brightly wrapped package. It was from the head of the People's Association. It was a new picture book of Gyelthang released the day before, and pamphlets in Chinese about the region's progress. My cousin hesitated a moment. Then he said, "Don't mix with the wrong people in India."

I felt the blood to my face. When would they get it? I would return the package, make my point in front of them all. My gentle cousin, only the messenger, seemed to have no inkling of how I felt. It dawned on me that we belonged no to different systems but to different enclosures, entirely different realities. The chasm between us was immense. I was from the outside- wherever Tibetan exiles lived. China was the adversary, a cosmic one, a central point of reference in our self-definition, built on the premise of exile. The sad truth was that the occupation of Tibet, the determining reality for us, lay outside the angle of vision of my cousin and many Gyelthang folk. It was not that they were pro-china or anti-Tibet; rather, the political discourse that defined us did not have the same significance or simply registered minisculely for them.

Not surprisingly, where I felt most at home was where the real bastion of Tibetan culture lay, at the monastery. It was the clergy that had fallen drastically from grace, it was monks who had suffered the greatest violation of their worldview. The sinicisation I encountered made me decry the loss and the betrayal of things Tibetan. I had become the tradition-holder or defender of it, notwithstanding the shaky grounds of this position. On my first visit there, an uneasy quiet reigned. A few pilgrims went about hesitantly, as if unsure of the rituals of daily worship. The monks seemed furtive, like victims, or like fugitives on the run.

Like many in Tibet, Gyelthang's monastery had been razed to rubble during the state-endorsed hooliganism called the "Cultural Revolution". Lamas and monks had been tortured, killed; there had been wholesale destruction and looting of religious paraphernalia. Then in the '80s, following the touted religious freedom that came with Deng Xiaoping's reforms, the hill-site had come to life with the reconstruction of the monastery; there were now several hundred monks.

I met a monk whose passionate hatred of the Chinese authorities had nothing in common with the pasture of reasonableness the office-going Tibetans inhabited. "Our Gyelthang youth are blind. Because they read and write a little Chinese, they think they know it all. They think us fools".

I had met Thupten and his relatives en route to Buddhist sites in India. From his foray south of the Himalaya, Thupten had glimpsed in exile a radiant vision of Tibet. A vision of Tibet that seemed able to rebut the Chinese chauvinistic view of it. In exile, he had found Tibetan Buddhist tradition alive and flourishing and, most of all, spread worldwide. There were religious initiations, grand monasteries, a self-confident clergy, dharma books, foreigners clad in monks' robes, and foreign statesmen saluting the Dalai Lama. Millions followed the dharma, and there were lamas and dharma centres all around the world. The spirit of Buddhism outside Tibet was more powerful than anything he had ever seen. Thupten had carried these impressions back to the small world at the edge of the Tibetan plateau, to continue his uphill battle with the "enemies of the faith".

The enclosure of Gyelthang jolted me into seeing who the seeker was. It was there, when everything seemed upside down, that I saw how much "I " was made up of my own yearnings and sense of loss. I believed I could be alive only as a Tibetan exile, right to my bones, blood, senses. To be Tibetan, to be against the Chinese, the cosmic nemesis; to be Tibetan Buddhist, not American or European; I could partake of other worlds, yet remain separate; it was an advantageous, wonderfully elastic, identity, allowing more than one way of being.

I realised that much of my indignation and anger came because my experience in Gyelthang shattered the idealised notions of Tibet I had held. Doubly so because I myself did not meet this high idealisation. Only when I allowed it, did I see that their sinicisation and loss of tradition were aspects of their daily life, not ideological, part of the normalcy of their own enclosure. Theirs was not a pro-China position, as mine was not a disavowal of Tibetan culture. In both enclosures, inside Tibet and outside, profound changes had occurred, the claim of different nuclei, modernisation, the world itself. Forty years is a short time historically, a long time in anyone's life.

Kesang Tsetan has authored a book on his travel to Tibet. He has also written the script for Tsering Rhitar's Nepalese feature film, Mukundo

Aspects of Autonomy: a Study in Autonomous Arrangements Around the World

How do you retain power under autonomous arrangements? US attorney Eva Herzer explores some formulas in international law

For over a decade, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has publicly stated that he seeks to negotiate "genuine self-government" or "genuine self-rule" for Tibet within the context of the Chinese state. His Holiness's position responds to the late Deng Xiaopeng's comments that everything is negotiable except for independence and takes into account the fact that time is running out for the Tibetan culture's survival in occupied Tibet. No doubt, His Holiness's decision to seek a resolution short of independence is strongly influenced by His assessment of the relative political and economic strengths of China and Tibet and the international community's long-standing failure to stand up for Tibetan independence.

Self-government of a people (such as the Tibetans) within the framework of a sovereign state is generally referred to as autonomy. Few political terms evoke stronger and more heated reactions in the Tibetan community than that of autonomy. This, of course, is not a surprise given that Tibetans have suffered unspeakable human rights violations and cultural destruction in the so-called Tibet "Autonomous" Region (TAR), where Tibetans have minimal rights to govern themselves in theory and virtually none in practice. On the other hand, the self-government or autonomy proposed by His Holiness, in His 1988 Strasbourg statement, provides for Tibetan control over most matters affecting Tibet. If autonomy can take such different forms, what then is autonomy?

Despite the fact that well over 40 autonomous arrangements have been created in the 20th century, the term "autonomy" has no generally accepted meaning in international law. One autonomous arrangement can be completely different from the next. Autonomy is a vague, if not meaningless, concept unless and until it is defined on a case-by-case basis as a particular distribution of governmental powers between two governments: The government of the people who seek self-government, usually referred to as the autonomous government, and the government of the sovereign or larger state, which I will refer to as the state government. Some of the major governmental powers which must be addressed in the drafting of an autonomous agreement are the power to control cultural affairs, education, the official language, national symbols, health and social services, the economy, taxation, natural resources, environmental policy, transportation, postal and telecommunication systems, law and order, administration of justice, currency and monetary policy, determination of citizenship, foreign policy, defense, passports and visas, customs, border control and immigration, as well as political rights.

By the same token, taking a position for or against autonomy is somewhat meaningless, unless the autonomy proposed or opposed is specifically defined as a particular distribution of governmental powers. This is because "autonomy" can provide for an allocation of power to the autonomous government that approaches virtual independence, as it does in the case of Liechtenstein and Andorra, or virtual subjugation, as it does in the case of the present Tibet Autonomous Region.

The International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet (ICLT) recently prepared a study of 34 autonomous arrangements and analysed the distribution of governmental powers in each case. To avoid any misunderstandings, I would like to make it clear that this study does not suggest that Tibetans should adopt one model of autonomy over another, for each situation is historically, politically, socially, economically and culturally unique. Nor does ICLT or I take the position that Tibetans should attempt to negotiate an autonomous arrangement with China, rather than pursue independence or other options. Rather, the intent of the study is to illustrate how autonomy has been practiced in various situations around the world, to show what distributions of governmental powers are possible and importantly to point out various issues which must be addressed if an autonomous arrangement is to be successful.

Tibetans, as a distinct people, have the right to self-determination, that is to decide on their future political, social and economic status. Pursuant to that right, Tibetans are entitled to choose a particular form of autonomy, independence, or they could theoretically opt to become fully integrated into the Chinese state. What options the Tibetans choose and how they make that choice, whether through their elected officials in exile, by decision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama or through a popular referendum, is up to them. It is important to note that the option is not between self-determination and independence, or between self-determination and autonomy (sometimes referred to as the "Middle Way" by His Holiness). Rather the option is between various forms of autonomy, independence or, theoretically, integration into the Chinese state. The right to self-determination is the legal basis for these options, not an option in itself. As Tibetans are well aware, unfortunately, rights under international law are not uniformly enforced and appropriate enforcement mechanisms have yet to be put in place. Thus even though Tibetans have the legal right to choose their future political status, this choice is restrained by the political realities of China and Tibet and by the political will of the international community.

Currently the Tibetan government is examining the option of some form of autonomy for Tibet and hopes to engage the Chinese government in negotiations in this regard. It is therefore important for Tibetans to inform themselves and to consider the various possibilities for division of governmental powers in an autonomous arrangement for self-governance. The following brief summary highlights the major governmental powers which must be considered in negotiating an autonomous arrangement and it highlights how other peoples have resolved the allocation of these powers.


Cultural preservation lies at the foundation of almost every struggle for self-determination. The power over cultural affairs is the only governmental function over which each and every autonomous government studied has control. In some cases, however, such as the TAR and Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, this control is a matter of right, but not of practice.


In the great majority of the situations studied, education is entirely controlled by the autonomous government. Most autonomous governments insist on controlling education in order to guarantee survival of the native language and the cultural identity of their people. For example, the Swedish speaking Aland Islands, an autonomous province of Finland under the 1991 Act of Autonomy for Aland, administer their own schools, where instruction is in Swedish, with English as a second language. Finish is offered as an optional language.

Several examples underscore the importance of providing sufficient second language instruction, especially in remote regions, so as to open post-secondary school educational opportunities to students. In Micronesia, an associated state of the United States (US) under the 1982 Compact of Free Association, education is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the autonomous government. Students are taught in each of the applicable Micronesian languages and English is required as a second language. Due to the geographical isolation and the low quality of some of the English instruction, however, many Micronesians graduate without proficiency in English. Because relatively few books are available in the Micronesian languages, educational levels remain low and students are not adequately prepared for a college education, which is only available abroad.

The TAR is one of the few examples where the autonomous government does not have ultimate control over education. It may plan and implement educational programs but does not have ultimate control since all such programs must comply with Chinese state guidelines.


Language is a key component of cultural identity and control over language is often critical to effective self-governance. In some autonomous arrangements the state's language is the sole official language, as in the TAR, where the official language is Mandarin. In others, the language of the people is the only official language, as in Kashmir where the official language is Urdu. Similarly in Quebec the official language is French even though the rest of Canada is English speaking. In some cases, such as the Aland Islands, the people's language is the official language, but translation from and into the state's language is available for certain official business. A number of autonomous arrangements provide for several official languages so as to meet the needs of the people and the state.Such arrangements are found in Hong Kong, the Cook Islands, Micronesia, Belgium, Greenland, Scotland, Tatarstan, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Puerto Rico.


To many peoples, national symbols, such as flags, seals and anthems, are a vital and critical part of their identity. Therefore, most peoples do have their own national symbolism. Prohibitions of national symbols are found only rarely, except in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which entered into a peace agreement with Bangladesh in 1997, the TAR and Northern Ireland.


In many cases, health care and social services are provided by the people's autonomous governments. For example, Hong Kong, Liechtenstein, South Tyrol, Kashmir, Tatarstan, Scotland, San Marino, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands Antilles, Basque Country, Catalonia, Andorra and Gibraltar all have exclusive control over these functions. An unsuccessful example of people's control over health care is found in Zanzibar which has insufficient funds to adequately provide for its population's needs. As a result there have been outbreaks of epidemics due to lack of potable water and inadequate sewage and electrical systems.

While health care and social services are inherently internal affairs issues, in many cases they are a function of the state, in part, for financial reasons. In Quebec health care is within the autonomous government's jurisdiction, but Quebec has transferred responsibility for health and social services to the Canadian federal government because the financial burden was too large for the autonomous government. Similarly, the Faroese have chosen to share that power with the Danish government in order to benefit from its technology and financial resources. Others, including the people of the Aland Islands, Cook Islands, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Micronesia and Northern Ireland, have sole control over health care delivery but with the support of the state by way of subsidies.


Many autonomous governments have sole or substantial control over their economy. Development of and control of the economy is essential to building a financial base for self-governance. The study shows that there is a high correlation between an autonomous government's degree of economic control and the health of the economy, on one hand, and the level of self-governance exercised by the autonomous government on the other hand.

For example, Tatarstan's oil reserves and strong military industry positioned Tatarstan to successfully negotiate a bilateral treaty with the Russian Federation, which guarantees to Tatarstan substantial powers of self-governance not enjoyed by other members of the Russian Federation. Liechtenstein, though one of the smallest European countries, has highly profitable electronics, metal, pharmaceutical, ceramics and textile industries, as well as lucrative tourism. It is a sovereign state which has chosen a mutually beneficial associated statehood relationship with Switzerland since 1923.

Economic power can also be successfully shared. In Quebec, for example, intra-provincial business is controlled by Quebec, while inter-provincial trade is controlled by the federal government. In the Basque Country, Spain exercises control over foreign trade, banking and insurance, while the Basque autonomous government controls all other aspects of the economy. In some cases state subsidies provide autonomous governments with substantial economic control. The Aland Islands, for example, control their port and shipping industry but require and receive substantial economic aid from Finland.

Lack of a viable economy leads to dependency in many other areas, as demonstrated by the case of the Navajo Nation. Similarly, in the TAR, where the economy is controlled by the state, lack of local control over the economy, a weak economy and a low level of autonomy go hand in hand.


The power to tax is vital to the control of the economy and government services. There is a strong correlation between taxing powers and substantial autonomy. Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Micronesia, Liechtenstein, Greenland, Palestine, Puerto Rico and the Cook Islands have exclusive taxing powers. Some autonomous governments may levy taxes with respect to matters within their jurisdiction, while states often reserve the powers to tax on matters of state-wide interest. In an interesting twist, some autonomous governments use their taxing power to attract commerce by creating tax-free heavens within their jurisdiction. This is the case in Andorra. The TAR is one of the very few examples where virtually all taxing powers are within the control of the state. The TAR has the limited authority to grant tax exemptions and reductions in special situations.


Control over natural resources is an important factor in controlling one's economy and environmental integrity. Natural resources are the main source of actual or potential wealth for many peoples. By the same token, states desire full access to these resources and it is often difficult to persuade states that it is in their best interest to allow an autonomous government control over natural resources. However, the economic viability of the autonomous people is generally in the state's best interest. State concerns over potentially unsound management of natural resources can be addressed through joint regulation of natural resources linked to international standards and best practices.

Many of the highly autonomous peoples examined have control over substantial natural resources. The Aland Islanders, for example, control ownership over their land and the resources it contains and their government controls all natural resources. Such arrangements are also found in the Federated States of Micronesia and Puerto Rico. Scotland has control over its natural resources, except for oil and gas. Greenlanders have substantial control over their natural resources. However, the study, prospecting and exploitation of natural resources is jointly regulated by Denmark and the Greenland government. The people of the TAR have no control over their natural resources. This has deprived them of potential wealth and has led to environmental mismanagement.


Sound environmental policies are essential for a sustainable economy and for all beings within a territory. Further, environmental policies are of great importance to the larger state because environmental devastation often knows no boundaries. For these reasons both the people and the state usually have a stake in environmental policy.

South Tyrol, Greenland, Zanzibar, Andorra and Scotland enjoy complete control over their environmental policies. Similarly, in Hong Kong jurisdiction over environmental policy is vested in the autonomous government. In the TAR, on the other hand, the central PRC government controls environmental policy. Some autonomous arrangements, such as the Interim Agreement for Palestine, provide for adherence to international environmental standards and joint environmental impact assessments. Joint control is therefore not necessarily counterproductive, so long as it is tied to specific international standards.


Roads and other aspects of transportation can be of strategic and military importance and of vital importance to the economy. State participation in transportation may be beneficial to an autonomous government which lacks necessary financial and technological resources. However, issues of ultimate control over transportation must be considered very carefully since transportation and population influx often go hand in hand.

Only South Tyrol, Liechtenstein, the Aland and Faroe Islands, the Netherlands Antilles, Micronesia, Andorra and the Cook Islands have exclusive power over transportation. Transportation is controlled exclusively by the state in Gibraltar, Kashmir, Torres Strait Islands, the Navajo Nation, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Examples of shared control are found, for example, in the Basque Country and Catalonian where the autonomous governments have control over railways and highways which run completely within their territories.


Most states seek control over postal and telecommunications systems as they may have strategic and military significance. While most autonomous governments chose not to control these systems which are expensive to run, some exceptions exist. Hong Kong, the Cook Islands and the Netherlands Antilles, for example control their own postal and telecommunications systems. San Marino and Italy share a postal union but San Marino issues its own stamps which are collectors' items due to their small circulation and thus a major source of income.


Control over policing is essential, especially when the relationship between the people and the state has historically been hostile. In most autonomous arrangements, the people alone or jointly with the state control policing and law enforcement. For example, the Aland Islands have sole jurisdiction over their police forces and public order. So do Micronesia, Liechtenstein, Scotland, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands Antilles, Andorra and the Cook Islands.

The Faroe Islands have joint jurisdiction with the Danish government over law and order. The Faroe Islands government maintains a small police force and coast guard. The Basic Law provides Hong Kong with exclusive jurisdiction over law and order within its territory.


In most autonomous arrangements ultimate judicial control rests with the state. Sometimes, the people have jurisdiction over a limited area of justice administration. Only Micronesia, Andorra and Liechtenstein have an independent judiciary of their own with complete jurisdiction over all civil and criminal matters.

Some autonomous governments have their own judiciary which is linked in various ways to the state. While Puerto Rico, for example, has its own court system based on Spanish law, rather than the English law on which the US judicial system is built, the US retains some control by allowing final judgments of the Puerto Rican court to be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

In Hong Kong judicial powers are vested in an "independent" judiciary based on English common law. Hong Kong's judiciary, however, is not truly independent since the decisions of its highest court are reviewable by China's National People's Congress.

In some arrangements jurisdiction is divided. For example, the Inuit, under the 1991 Nanavut Land Claim of Canada, have control over the trial and appellate courts, while the Canadian Supreme Court has final appellate jurisdiction. Similarly, Scotland has civil and criminal courts but the highest level of civil appeals lies with the British court. In the TAR, the judiciary is entirely controlled by the PRC.

In negotiations for judicial powers consideration must be given to the quality of the judicial system of the state and to the traditional judicial system of the autonomous people. In other words, the legal system's process, its neutrality and its independence from political forces may be of more importance than the issue of who controls it.


Most peoples use the currency of the state. However, as with postage stamps, currency may be of symbolic significance. Some peoples have a separate currency which may be used interchangeably, at the same value, with the currency of the state, which controls the monetary policy. This includes the Holy See, Scotland, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar and the peoples of the Cook and Faroe Islands and the Netherlands Antilles. Hong Kong has its own currency which is independent of the Chinese currency.


Citizenship can be of symbolic importance and can also be linked to other important issues such as immigration, land ownership, voting rights and access to state schools.

With few exceptions, autonomous arrangements provide that the autonomous people are citizens of the state. However, Tatars are citizens of Tatarstan and citizens of the Russian Federation. Similarly, the people of Zanzibar are citizens of both Zanzibar and Tanzania. Aland Islanders are dual citizens of Aland Islands and Finland. The people of Gibraltar, while not holding their own citizenship are British nationals and British Dependent Territory citizens. Hong Kong citizens and the people of the TAR are citizens of the PRC.


Foreign policy powers can be held exclusively by the autonomous government, by the state or they can be shared. While there is often an assumption that all foreign affairs powers are matters of exclusive state concern, the study shows that foreign affairs powers can be successfully divided and shared.

The interests of the state and the autonomous governments can best be met if foreign policy powers are divided in a practical manner, so as to give the state and the autonomous government those foreign policy powers which complement the other governmental powers they each hold. Autonomous governments which enjoy a high degree of internal self-governance have a substantial interest in participating in matters of foreign policy which affect their areas of self-governance. By the same token, a state may have little interest in an area of foreign policy that is related to a governmental function within the control of the autonomous government. Thus, for example, where the state has no involvement in the economy of the autonomous people, it may have little interest in the power to enter into trade treaties affecting the autonomous territory.

San Marino, Liechtenstein, the Cook Islands, Micronesia, Andorra and Tatarstan, all are economically strong entities and enjoy the highest level of control over foreign policy within the entities studied. Liechtenstein, for example, is a sovereign state, but through an autonomous arrangement has authorised Switzerland to conduct most of its diplomatic affairs. However, it retains ultimate power over its foreign policy.

Some autonomous arrangements provide for limited participation of the autonomous government in foreign policy matters. In Hong Kong, for example, foreign affairs powers are vested in the PRC. The PRC nonetheless has authorised Hong Kong to conduct certain external affairs on its own in accordance with the Basic Law. Thus, under the name of Hong Kong China, Hong Kong may develop, maintain and conclude relations and agreements with foreign states and international organisations in the areas of trade, shipping, communications, tourism, monetary affairs and culture. Hong Kong is a distinct member of a number of international organisations, including the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation.

Palestine, though not yet independent has diplomatic relations with over 100 states and enjoys UN Observer status. However, the Interim Agreement of 1995 limits the foreign affairs powers of the PLO to the areas of economic, cultural, scientific and educational agreements with other states. Greenland and the Faroe Islands are subject to Denmark's exclusive jurisdiction over foreign affairs but Greenlanders and the Faroe Islanders have the right to enter into their own trade agreements.

In many other situations, however, the autonomous government does not share in foreign policy powers on a decision making level. Some people have the right under their respective autonomy arrangements to join relevant international organisations. The Inuit, for example, are a member of the Circumpolar Conference and the Aland Islanders, the Saami and the Faroe Islanders send their own separate delegations to the Nordic Council, a regional organisation of parliamentarians from the Nordic States. This type of involvement allows the people concerned to contribute their input and views to matters of foreign relations.

In the TAR and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, foreign policy powers are held exclusively by the PRC's central government, with no involvement by the autonomous governments.


In virtually all the autonomous arrangements studied the power of defense is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the state. Hong Kong and the TAR are examples of exclusive state control over defense. Some arrangements provide for demilitarisation of the territory inhabited by the people. A major provision of the 1991 Act of Autonomy of Aland, for example, provides that the Aland Islands will remain demilitarised. Similarly, Liechtenstein has been a neutral country since 1866 and is a demilitarised zone. Other autonomous arrangements provide for a reduction in military presence.


Control over visas may have effects on economic development and tourism. Passports may be connected to issues of immigration and also may have symbolic significance for the autonomous people. Passports and visas are mostly controlled by the state. Exceptions are found in the Aland and Faroe Islands, where passports identify the people as citizens of the autonomous government and of the state. Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia carry their own passports as Micronesian citizens. Hong Kong issues its own visas and passports, though Hong Kong citizens have become PRC citizens. The TAR, on the other hand, has no control over passports or visas.


In the great majority of situations studied, the state controls customs, borders and immigration of foreign citizens. These powers, though, can be exercised jointly or can be divided between the state and the autonomous government. Special attention must be paid to internal immigration and to residency requirements because immigration can have a profound impact on culture and can lead to cultural destruction, especially when citizens of the larger state immigrate into the autonomous territory.

The Cook Islands, the Holy See and the Federated States of Micronesia are exceptions as they have full control over customs, borders and all aspects of immigration. While Canada has power over borders and customs on Inuit land, the Inuit may exclude non-Inuits, Canadians and foreigners from entering their territory. Canadian military exercises require Inuit agreement. Further, the Inuit have exclusive jurisdiction over deciding who is Inuit. Similarly, the Navajo Nation controls entry into its territory as well as who may reside there.

In some situations these powers are divided between the state and the people. For example, in Palestine, Israel and Palestine jointly control the borders. The Hong Kong government administers and controls customs and immigration, subject to the ultimate jurisdiction of the PRC, while the PRC administers and controls these matters in the TAR.


Adherence to human rights standards appears to be the litmus test of autonomous arrangements. In the majority of cases where the autonomous people hold substantial control over governmental powers international human rights standards are adhered to. Some newly-independent states and autonomous arrangements, including the Cook Islands, Gibraltar, Andorra and South Africa, have taken a preventive approach by expressly incorporating international human rights standards into their constitutions. Similarly some autonomous statutes, such as the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, require the autonomous government to protect and promote human rights.

On the other hand, where the basic needs of the people are not met and where the cultural identity of the people is not furthered by the autonomous arrangements, political instability and human rights violations are prevalent. The TAR, which holds virtually no ultimate control over governmental powers, unfortunately exemplifies this problem all too clearly.

In stark contrast to the degree of autonomy now held by the TAR, His Holiness's Strasbourg proposal seeks a level of autonomy for Tibet by which Tibetans would control all governmental powers except defence and certain foreign affairs powers. While similar models have been highly successful elsewhere, the real challenge for Tibet is how to reach a mutually acceptable agreement with China and how to secure its enforcement. The latter poses a special problem because China does not have an independent judiciary which can force the Communist Party to adhere to its commitments. It is thus essential that mechanisms be explored by which potential post-agreement conflicts can be effectively addressed. This could be done through special non-modifiable constitutional provisions for conflict resolution or through international undertakings or guarantees. Tibet's interests could also be safeguarded through express contractual provisions which would make the autonomous agreement voidable at the option of the Tibetans, in case of breach of the agreement. Such provisions would act as an incentive for full implementation of the agreement. On the other hand, they would clearly allow Tibetans to terminate an agreement which does not deliver the promised control and benefits. While such matters are extremely complex and difficult to negotiate they are worth full exploration. If China truly seeks political stability, it should be willing to participate in negotiations for an enforceable agreement which provides for substantial Tibetan autonomy.

Eva Herzer is a founding member and former president of the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Younghusband: An imperialist or a luminous mystic?

An extract from Patrick French's Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer

The land called Tibet has a symbolic value in the Western mind which extends way beyond any experimental reality. Although Lost Horizon was not published until thirty years after Francis Younghusband set foot in Tibet, the mystical romanticism the book embodies bad been around since the reports of Jesuit missionaries appeared in the seventeenth century. Younghusband's obituary in the New York Times fittingly merged the man who led the British invasion with the Hollywood myth: "if as James Hilton strongly suggests in Lost Horizon, Shangri La is somewhere in Tibet rather than merely somewhere- anywhere…. Then Francis Younghusband probably came closer than anyone else to being Robert Conway".

Tibet's diplomatic isolation and physical inaccessibility helped the legend to develop. Here on the borders of British India was a huge country- the size of Western Europe-which was closed to the representatives of the King Emperor. Fantastic tales abounded among Younghusband's contemporaries of flying yogis, peculiar tortures, polyandrous practices, rare jewels, strange reincarnations, excrement pills, astral projection and even (myth of all myths) no wheels- except the prayer wheel of course. Unconquered kingdoms always hold a special excitement for great empires: at the turn of the century Tibet represented the ultimate in pure, virgin territory.

One of the few public figures to acknowledge Tibet's symbolic lure was the liberal politician Sir Henry Cotton. In an interview with the Daily News in December 1903 he stirred up a hornet's nest of imperial outrage by questioning the motives for the forthcoming invasion. When he had been in India, he said, there were countless youngmen " to whom the glamour of the Forbidden City was irresistible, to whom the romance attaching to the unknown formed the great temptation of their lives…". Cotton went on to claim that Curzon himself had fallen for the glamour of the myth, and was now'seeking the glory and world-wide fame of being "the Viceroy of India who opened Tibet and carried the British flag into Lhasa".

But far from 'unveiling' and thereby destroying the mystery of Tibet, the British invasion served to heighten it by stimulating world-wide interest. Over the decades after Younghusband's Expedition, countless travelling writers have continued ostensibly to uncover, discover and unveil this island in the sky.

The supposed transformative powers of Tibet have even been credited with changing Younghusband's own religious views and converting him to a belief in non-violence. Although it is true one of the two profound spiritual experiences of his life did occur in Tibet, he had strong mystical tendencies long before he led the invasion. There is even a surprising misapprehension, especially among admirers of Younghusband's later religious work, that the vibrations of Tibet somehow converted his Mission into a peaceful one. In a BBC radio interview the League of Nations enthusiastic and Classical scholar Gilbert Murray said that his friend Francis Younghusband 'wanted to penetrated Tibet because he so liked the Tibetans… he wanted to get into their country and talk with the lamas and to see if they had some real sympathy about religion'.

Rom Landau, a Polish-American sculptor and mystical writer, suggested in a memoir of 'Tibet Younghusband', as he liked to call him, that one particular event on the road to Lhasa was' the outstanding one of his life'.

That event took place toward the end of his mission (when) it was uncertain whether the small contingent of troops that he was leading would have to fight the Tibetans facing them. During one harrowing moment of uncertainly he suddenly 'saw' that God's will was not conquest by arms but friendship through mutual understanding…. He entered Lhasa without having to fire a shot and signed there a convention with the regent. When soon afterwards he had to leave Lhasa, he did so as a friend.

This extraordinary manipulation of the facts is typical of the way that Younghusband's identity has been colonised by his various chroniclers. Either he was a Boy's Own swashbuckling imperialist, or he was a peaceful, luminous mystic; or alternatively, he had a split personality.

The reality, as I came to perceive it, was both more complex and more human. Younghusband's experiences in Tibet were a formative part of an extraordinary journey of personal discovery and development. His rare, quirky, almost child-like view of life enabled him to go through an enormous range of apparently contradictory experiences, and encompass them all. As Jan Morris wrote in The Spectacle of Empire, Younghusband 'most nearly filled the part of Everyman' in the great imperial drama. He never stood still, never stopped changing.

Tibet in the last century

1903: British India sends Younghusband Expedition to Tibet and defeats the Tibetan Army. The 13th Dalai Lama flees to Mongolia and China.

1904: The British army leaves Tibet after signing the Lhasa Convention, according to which Tibet is to refrain from entering into treaties with foreign powers and sanction the opening of British trade marts at Gyangtse and Gartok.

1907: British and Russia render recognition to China's nominal suzerainty over Tibet. The agreement violates the British government's erstwhile recognition of Tibet as an independent country.

1910: Manchu General Chao Erfang attacks Tibet, bringing down the final curtain on the centuries-old priest-patron relationship shared between the Manchu dynasty and the Dalai Lama escapes to India.

1912: An independence campaign led by the Dalai Lama results in the withdrawal of Chinese troops from Tibet's central province.

1913: The Dalai Lama issues proclamation of Tibet's independence after the last Chinese has been driven out from Amdo and Kham. He sets in motion the process of modernisation in order to make Tibet stronger.

1914: British India, China and Tibet enter into Shimla Agreement as independent powers. Chinese refusal to ratify the treaty results in the invalidation of China's nominal suzerainty over Tibet.

1933: the 13th Dalai Lama, Thupten Gyatso, passes away at the age of 54. Reting Thupten Jampel Yeshe appointed to Regency.

1935: The future 14th Dalai Lama is born in Amdo, Tibet's north-eastern province, to Choekyong Tsering and Dekyi Tsering.

1939: The boy, Lhamo Dhondup, is officially recognised as the 14th Dalai Lama in a hair-cutting ceremony presided over by Reting Rinpoche.

1940: The Dalai Lama is enthroned in the Potala Palace.

1947: Tibetan government felicitates India on its newly gained independence. Tibet is represented by its own delegation in the Asian Relations Conference held in Delhi.

1948: Tibetan government dispatches a high-level trade delegation abroad, led by Shakabpa, in order to demonstrate Tibetan independence. The United Kingdom and United States issue visas on Tibetan passports in recognition of Tibet's independence status.

1949: Alarmed by the Communists' declaration to "liberate" Tibet, the Tibetan Foreign Bureau writes to the British Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, seeking support. The Foreign Bureau encloses the copy of a letter that has been sent to Chairman Mao, which declares that Tibet is an independent country and that the new government should observe the established boundary. In December, the Kashag sends a telegram to the British Government requesting support for admission of Tibet into the U.N.

1950: 40,000 PLA troops attack Chamdo, eastern Tibet's provincial capital. Two days later, the 8000-strong Tibetan army is defeated and Chamdo Governor Ngaboe Ngawang Jigme held hostage. Indian Foreign Ministry sends a protest letter to the Chinese government. Britain and United States express support to the Indian position.

1951: Tibetan delegation is forced to sign the infamous "17-point Agreement in Beijing, despite the delegation not having the authority to enter into any agreement. Communist China affixes a forged Tibetan seal to the agreement. Lhasa becomes a marching ground to tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers.

1952: The 10th Panchen Lama arrives in Lhasa and meets with the Dalai Lama. The forced agreement sees its implementation with the formation of a Tibet Work Committee.

1954: With the signing of Panchsheel Agreement with China, India forsakes its recognition of Tibetan sovereignty. The Dalai Lama visits Beijing with an entourage of officials and dignitaries. Increasing number of refugees start arriving in Lhasa from Kham and Amdo with stories of Communist attacks on religion and religious institutions.

1956: The Dalai Lama journeys to India for the Buddha Jayanti celebration. He discusses possible asylum with Prime Minister Nehru, but is persuaded to return home by Premier Zhou Enlai of China on the promise that Beijing will rectify the deteriorating situation in Tibet. China sets up the Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet (PCART) to replace the Tibetan government.

1958: The inaugural meeting of Chushi-Gangdrukis held in June with Andruk Gompo Tashi as its leader. A new yellow flag with two crossed swords is unveiled as the standard of the Tibetan guerrilla resistance movement. The CIA's first arms drop into Tibet is made in July. Tibetan guerrilla resistance movement. The CIA's first arms drop into Tibet is made in July. Tibetan guerrilla resistance has by now spread to central Tibet.

1959: Tibetan national uprising breaks out in Lhasa. China crushes the uprising killing 87,000 Tibetans. Tibetan Women's Association formed in Lhasa to challenge the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Dalai Lama leaves for India, some 80,000 Tibetans following him into exile. Chinese Premeire Zhou Enlai announces the dissolution of the Tibetan Government. The Dalai Lama repudiates the "17th - point Agreement" on reaching Tezpur in Assam, northeast state of India. He says this "agreement" was thrust upon the "Tibetan Government in the exiles of Mussorie, north India hill station, the Dalai Lama declares, "Wherever I am, accompanied by my government, the Tibetan people recognise us as the Government of Tibet." The UN General Assembly passes its first resolution on Tibet, calling for "respect for the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people and for their distinctive cultural and religious life".

1960: Unofficial Tibetan guerrilla base established in Mustang, Nepal, to continue covert armed resistance against Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Tibetan Government-in-Exile moves to Dharamsala, north-west India. The International Commission of Jurists publishes its first report on Tibet, criticising China of "wanton killing of Tibetans" and systematic disregard for the obligations under the "17-point Agreement of 1951". The Tibetan Parliament in exile is established.

1961: The UN General Assembly passes its second resolution on Tibet, recognising the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination.

1962: 97 percent of monasteries and nunneries in the "Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)" and 99 percent of monasteries and nunneries outside the "TAR" are by now either depopulated or in ruins. Of 6,259 monasteries and nunneries in the whole of Tibet, only eight remains undestroyed. Panchen Rinpoche's "70,000 character petition" to the Chinese leadership testifies to this destruction.

1963: The Dalai Lama promulgates the democratic constitution for future Tibet.

1964: The Panchen Lama arrested in Lhasa after publicly supporting the Dalai Lama. 10,000 Tibetan students demonstrate in Lhasa against Chinese policy.

1965: The UN General Assembly passes its third resolution on Tibet, renewing its "call for the cessation of all practices which deprive the Tibetan people of the human rights and fundamental freedoms which they have always enjoyed".

1966: Mao's Cultural Revolution unleashes a further wave of death and destruction in Tibet. Panchen Rinpoche is arrested and sentenced to almost ten years of imprisonment.

1970: Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), the largest non-governmental political organisation of the Tibetans in exile, established with its headquarters in Dharamsala.

1971: China stations the first nuclear weapons in Tsaidam Basin in Tibet's Amdo province.

1979: Following his announcement of a policy of liberation in Tibet, Deng Xioping meets Gyalo Thondup, elder brother of the Dalai Lama, in Beijing and tells him that China is willing to discuss and resolve with Tibetans all issues other than the complete independence of Tibet. The Dalai Lama sends the first fact-finding delegation to Tibet.

1980: The second fact-finding delegation visits Tibet. The third fact-finding delegation visits Tibet in the same year in July, while the fourth fact-finding delegation visits northeastern Tibet five years later.

1981: The Dalai Lama writes to Deng Xiaoping,stating that the three delegations have found the conditions in Tibet sad and that "genuine efforts must be made to resolve the problem of Tibet"" CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang replies with "China's Five-point Policy towards the Dalai Lama" which practically seeks to reduce the Tibet issue to the question of the Dalai Lama's personal status.

1984: The three-member exploratory delegation visits Beijing for another round of talks, but without success in achieving substantive negotiations. Tibetan Government-in-exile announces the death of 1.2 million Tibetans as a direct result of Chinese invasion and occupation.

1987: The Dalai Lama addresses the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus and puts forward his Five-Point-Peace-Plan for resolving the Tibet issue through negotiations with the Chinese government. Two major independence demonstrations erupts in Lhasa a month later.

1988: Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the Dalai Lama elaborates on the Five-Point-Peace-Plan and proposes talks leading to a "self- governing democratic political entity" for all the three provinces of Tibet. This entity, the Dalai Lama says, will be "in association with the People's Republic of China" and that Chinese government can continue to "remain responsible for Tibet's foreign policy and defence".

1989: The 10th Panchen Lama passes away while on a visit to Shigatse. A few days before his mysterious death, he publicly states that Chinese rule in Tibet has brought more harm than benefit. In answer to three years of protest demonstrations in Lhasa, all brutally cracked down, China finally imposes Martial Law in Tibet. The Dalai Lama wins the Nobel Peace Prize in October.

1990: The Dalai Lama introduces sweeping democratic reforms in the exile administration, empowering the popularly-elected Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies (ATPD) to elect the Cabinet Ministers of the exile government.

1991: The ATPD adopts a new democratic constitution for the Tibetan Government-in-exile. US President George Bush signs into law, a congressional resolution declaring Tibet an occupied country.

1992: In the "Guidelines for Future Tibet's Polity and Basic Features of its Constitution", the Dalai Lama states that in a future, free Tibet, he will relinquish his powers in favour of a popularity elected government.

1995: The Dalai Lama announces Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a six-year-old child in Tibet, as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. China spirits away Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and enthrones an alternative candidate, Gyaltsen Norbu, as the 11th Panchen Lama. The whereabouts of the Dalai Lama recognised boy and his parents remain unknown to this day.

1996: China begins Strike Hard, Patriotic Re-education and Spiritual Civilisation campaigns, all aimed at coercing the Tibetan people, especially the monks and nuns, to renounce their faith in the Dalai Lama.

1997: The Dalai Lama visits Taiwan to a tumultuous welcome and a high-profile meeting with President Lee Tang-hui. The US Administration creates a new post in the State Department to oversee and report on Tibetan Affairs. Greg Craig is appointed the first Co-ordinator for Tibet.

1998: Six members of Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) undertake an unto-death hunger strike in New Delhi to pressure the UN to implement the recommendations of the International Commission of Jurist' 1997 report on Tibet. One TYC supporter, Thupten Ngodup, dies from self-immolation.

1999: Three members of TYC undertake an unto-death fast in Geneva to pressure the 55th session of the UNHRD into censuring China on its human rights practices in Tibet.

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