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News :: Human Rights
Certain Tibetan Buddhist Activists as Reactionaries & Front Men for Amerikkkan Imperialism
16 Dec 2004
Certain Tibetan Buddhist Activists as Reactionaries & Front Men for Amerikkkan Imperialism
The True Story of Maoist Revolution in Tibet, Part 1
When the Dalai Lamas Ruled:
Hell on Earth
Revolutionary Worker #944, February 15, 1998
Hard Climate, Heartless Society
Tibet is one of the most remote places in the world. It is centered on a high mountain plateau deep in the heart of Asia. It is cut off from South Asia by the Himalayas, the highest mountains in the world. Countless river gorges and at least six different mountain ranges carve this region into isolated valleys. Before all the changes brought about after the Chinese revolution of 1949, there were no roads in Tibet that wheeled vehicles could travel. All travel was over winding, dangerous mountain trails--by mule, by foot or by yaks which are hairy cow-like mountain animals. Trade, communications and centralized government were almost impossible to maintain.
Most of Tibet is above the tree-line. The air is very thin. Most crops and trees won't grow there. It was a struggle to grow food and even find fuel for fires.
At the time of the revolution, the population of Tibet was extremely spread out. About two or three million Tibetans lived in an area half the size of the United States--about 1.5 million square miles. Villages, monasteries and nomad encampments were often separated by many days of difficult travel.
Maoist revolutionaries saw there were "Three Great Lacks" in old Tibet: lack of fuel, lack of communications, and lack of people. The revolutionaries analyzed that these "Three Great Lacks" were not mainly caused by the physical conditions, but by the social system. The Maoists said that the "Three Great Lacks" were caused by the "Three Abundances" in Tibetan society: "Abundant poverty, abundant oppression and abundant fear of the supernatural."
Class Society in Old Tibet
Tibet was a feudal society before the revolutionary changes that started in 1949. There were two main classes: the serfs and the aristocratic serf owners. The people lived like serfs in Europe's "Dark Ages," or like African slaves and sharecroppers of the U.S. South.
Tibetan serfs scratched barley harvest from the hard earth with wooden plows and sickles. Goats, sheep and yaks were raised for milk, butter, cheese and meat. The aristocratic and monastery masters owned the people, the land and most of the animals. They forced the serfs to hand over most grain and demanded all kinds of forced labor (called ulag). Among the serfs, both men and women participated in hard labor, including ulag. The scattered nomadic peoples of Tibet's barren western highlands were also owned by lords and lamas.
The Dalai Lama's older brother Thubten Jigme Norbu claims that in the lamaist social order, "There is no class system and the mobility from class to class makes any class prejudice impossible." But the whole existence of this religious order was based on a rigid and brutal class system.
Serfs were treated like despised "inferiors"--the way Black people were treated in the Jim Crow South. Serfs could not use the same seats, vocabulary or eating utensils as serf owners. Even touching one of the master's belongings could be punished by whipping. The masters and serfs were so distant from each other that in much of Tibet they spoke different languages.
It was the custom for a serf to kneel on all fours so his master could step on his back to mount a horse. Tibet scholar A. Tom Grunfeld describes how one ruling class girl routinely had servants carry her up and down stairs just because she was lazy. Masters often rode on their serfs' backs across streams.
The only thing worse than a serf in Tibet was a "chattel slave," who had no right to even grow a few crops for themselves. These slaves were often starved, beaten and worked to death. A master could turn a serf into a slave any time he wanted. Children were routinely bought and sold in Tibet's capital, Lhasa. About 5 percent of the Tibetan people were counted as chattel slaves. And at least another 10 percent were poor monks who were really "slaves in robes."
The lamaist system tried to prevent any escape. Runaway slaves couldn't just set up free farms in the vast empty lands. Former serfs explained to revolutionary writer Anna Louise Strong that before liberation, "You could not live in Tibet without a master. Anyone might pick you up as an outlaw unless you had a legal owner."
Born Female--Proof of Past Sins?
The Dalai Lama writes, "In Tibet there was no special discrimination against women." The Dalai Lama's authorized biographer Robert Hicks argues that Tibetan women were content with their status and "influenced their husbands." But in Tibet, being born a woman was considered a punishment for "impious" (sinful) behavior in a previous life. The word for "woman" in old Tibet, kiemen, meant "inferior birth." Women were told to pray, "May I reject a feminine body and be reborn a male one."
Lamaist superstition associated women with evil and sin. It was said "among ten women you'll find nine devils." Anything women touched was considered tainted--so all kinds of taboos were placed on women. Women were forbidden to handle medicine. Han Suyin reports, "No woman was allowed to touch a lama's belongings, nor could she raise a wall, or 'the wall will fall.'... A widow was a despicable being, already a devil. No woman was allowed to use iron instruments or touch iron. Religion forbade her to lift her eyes above the knee of a man, as serfs and slaves were not allowed to life the eyes upon the face of the nobles or great lamas."
Monks of the major sects of Tibetan Buddhism rejected sexual intimacy (or even contact) with women, as part of their plan to be holy. Before the revolution, no woman had ever set foot in most monasteries or the palaces of the Dalai Lama.
There are reports of women being burned for giving birth to twins and for practicing the pre-Buddhist traditional religion (called Bon). Twins were considered proof that a woman had mated with an evil spirit. The rituals and folk medicine of Bon were considered "witchcraft." Like in other feudal societies, upperclass women were sold into arranged marriages. Custom allowed a husband to cut off the tip of his wife's nose if he discovered she had slept with someone else. The patriarchal practices included polygyny, where a wealthy man could have many wives; and polyandry, where in land-poor noble families one woman was forced to be wife to several brothers.
Among the lower classes, family life was similar to slavery in the U.S. South. (See The Life of a Tibetan Slave.) Serfs could not marry or leave the estate without the master's permission. Masters transferred serfs from one estate to another at will, breaking up serf families forever. Rape of women serfs was common--under the ulag system, a lord could demand "temporary wives."
The Three Masters
The Tibetan people called their rulers "the Three Great Masters" because the ruling class of serf owners was organized into three institutions: the lama monasteries possessed 37 percent of the cultivated land and pasture in old Tibet; the secular aristocracy 25 percent; and the remaining 38 percent was in the hands of the government officials appointed by the Dalai Lama's advisors.
About 2 percent of Tibet's population was in this upper class, and an additional 3 percent were their agents, overseers, stewards, managers of estates and private armies. The ger-ba, a tiny elite of about 200 families, ruled at the top. Han Suyin writes: "Only 626 people held 93 percent of all land and wealth and 70 percent of all the yaks in Tibet. These 626 included 333 heads of monasteries and religious authorities, and 287 lay authorities (including the nobles of the Tibetan army) and six cabinet ministers."
Merchants and handicraftsmen also belonged to a lord. A quarter of the population in the capital city of Lhasa survived by begging from religious pilgrims. There was no modern industry or working class. Even matches and nails had to be imported. Before the revolution, no one in Tibet was ever paid wages for their work.
The heart of this system was exploitation. Serfs worked 16- or 18-hour days to enrich their masters--keeping only about a quarter of the food they raised.
A. Tom Grunfeld writes: "These estates were extremely lucrative. One former aristocrat noted that a 'small' estate would typically consist of a few thousand sheep, a thousand yaks, an undetermined number of nomads and two hundred agricultural serfs. The yearly output would consist of over 36,000 kg (80,000 lbs.) of grain, over 1,800 kg (4,000 lbs.) of wool and almost 500 kg (1,200 lbs.) of butter... A government official had 'unlimited powers of extortion' and could make a fortune from his powers to extract bribes not to imprison and punish people.... There was also the matter of extracting monies from the peasantry beyond the necessary taxes."
The ruling serf owners were parasites. One observer, Sir Charles Bell, described a typical official who spent an hour a day at his official duties. Upper class parties lasted for days of eating, gambling and lying around. The aristocratic lamas also never worked. They spent their days chanting, memorizing religious dogma and doing nothing.
The Monasteries: Strongholds of Feudalism
Defenders of old Tibet portray Lamaist Buddhism as the essence of the culture of the people of Tibet. But it was really nothing more or less than the ideology of a specific oppressive social system. The lamaist religion itself is exactly as old as feudal class society. The first Tibetan king, Songsten-gampo, established a unified feudal system in Tibet, around 650 A.D. He married princesses from China and Nepal in order to learn from them the practices used outside Tibet to carry out feudalism. These princesses brought Tantric Buddhism to Tibet, where it was merged with earlier animist beliefs to create a new religion, Lamaism.
This new religion had to be imposed on the people over the next century and a half by the ruling class, using violence. King Trosong Detsen decreed: "He who shows a finger to a monk shall have his finger cut off; he who speaks ill of the monks and the king's Buddhist policy shall have his lips cut off; he who looks askance at them shall have his eyes put out..."
Between the 1400s and the 1600s, a bloody consolidation of power took place, the abbots of the largest monasteries seized overall power. Because these abbots practiced anti-woman celibacy, their new political system could not operate by hereditary father-to-son succession. So the lamas created a new doctrine for their religion: They announced that they could detect newborn children who were reincarnations of dead ruling lamas. Hundreds of top lamas were declared "Living Buddhas" (Bodhisattvas) who had supposedly ruled others for centuries, switching to new bodies occasionally as old host bodies wore out.
The central symbol of this system, the various men called Dalai Lama, was said to be the early Tibetan nature-god Chenrezig who had simply reappeared in 14 different bodies over the centuries. In fact, only three of the 14 Dalai Lamas actually ruled. Between 1751 and 1950, there was no adult Dalai Lama on the throne in Tibet 77 percent of the time. The most powerful abbots ruled as "regent" advisors who trained, manipulated and even assassinated the child-king Dalai Lamas.
Tibetan monasteries were not holy, compassionate Shangrilas, like in some New Age fantasy. These monasteries were dark fortresses of feudal exploitation--they were armed villages of monks complete with military warehouses and private armies. Pilgrims came to some shrines to pray for a better life. But the main activity of monasteries was robbing the surrounding peasants. The huge idle religious clergy grew little food--feeding them was a big burden on the people.
The largest monasteries housed thousands of monks. Each "parent" monastery created dozens (even hundreds) of small strongholds scattered through the mountain valleys. For example, the huge Drepung monastery housed 7,000 monks and owned 40,000 people on 185 different estates with 300 pastures.
Monasteries also made up countless religious taxes to rob the people--including taxes on haircuts, on windows, on doorsteps, taxes on newborn children or calves, taxes on babies born with double eyelids...and so on. A quarter of Drepung's income came from interest on money lent to the serf-peasantry. The monasteries also demanded that serfs hand over many young boys to serve as child-monks.
The class relations of Tibet were reproduced inside the monasteries: the majority of monks were slaves and servants to the upper abbots and lived half-starved lives of menial labor, prayer chanting and routine beatings. Upper monks could force poor monks to take their religious exams or perform sexual services. (In the most powerful Tibetan sect, such homosexual sex was considered a sign of holy distance from women.) A small percent of the clergy were nuns.
After liberation, Anna Louise Strong asked a young monk, Lobsang Telé, if monastery life followed Buddhist teachings about compassion. The young lama replied that he heard plenty of talk in the scripture halls about kindness to all living creatures, but that he personally had been whipped at least a thousand times. "If any upper class lama refrains from whipping you," he told Strong, "that is already very good. I never saw an upper lama give food to any poor lama who was hungry. They treated the laymen who were believers just as badly or even worse."
These days, the Dalai Lama is "packaged" internationally as a non-materialist holy man. In fact, the Dalai Lama was the biggest serf owner in Tibet. Legally, he owned the whole country and everyone in it. In practice, his family directly controlled 27 manors, 36 pastures, 6,170 field serfs and 102 house slaves.
When he moved from palace to palace, the Dalai Lama rode on a throne chair pulled by dozens of slaves. His troops marched along to "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," a tune learned from their British imperialist trainers. Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama's bodyguards, all over six-and-a-half feet tall, with padded shoulders and long whips, beat people out of his path. This ritual is described in the Dalai Lama's autobiography.
The first time he fled to India in 1950, the Dalai Lama's advisors sent several hundred mule-loads of gold and silver bars ahead to secure his comfort in exile. After the second time he fled, in 1959, Peking Review reported that his family left lots of gold and silver behind, plus 20,331 pieces of jewelry and 14,676 pieces of clothing.
Bitter Poverty, Early Death
The people lived with constant cold and hunger. Serfs endlessly gathered scarce wood for their masters. But their own huts were only heated by small cooking fires of yak dung. Before the revolution there was no electricity in Tibet. The darkness was only lit by flickering yak-butter lamps.
Serfs were often sick from malnutrition. The traditional food of the masses is a mush made from tea, yak butter, and a barley flour called tsampa. Serfs rarely tasted meat. One 1940 study of eastern Tibet says that 38 percent of households never got any tea--and drank only wild herbs or "white tea" (boiled water). Seventy-five percent of the households were forced at times to eat grass. Half of the people couldn't afford butter--the main source of protein available.
Meanwhile, a major shrine, the Jokka Kang, burned four tons of yak butter offerings daily. It has been estimated that one-third of all the butter produced in Tibet went up in smoke in nearly 3,000 temples, not counting the small alters in each house.
In old Tibet, nothing was known about basic hygiene, sanitation, or the fact that germs caused disease. For ordinary people, there were no outhouses, sewers or toilets. The lamas taught that disease and death were caused by sinful "impiety." They said that chanting, obedience, paying monks money and swallowing prayer scrolls was the only real protection from disease.
Old Tibet's superstition, feudal practices and low productive forces caused the people to suffer terribly from disease. Most children died before their first year. Even most Dalai Lamas did not make it to 18 years old and died before their coronations. A third of the population had smallpox. A 1925 smallpox epidemic killed 7,000 in Lhasa. It is not known how many died in the countryside. Leprosy, tuberculosis, goiter, tetanus, blindness and ulcers were very common. Feudal sexual customs spread venereal disease, including in the monasteries. Before the revolution, about 90 percent of the population was infected--causing widespread sterility and death. Later, under the leadership of Mao Tsetung, the revolution was able to greatly reduce these illnesses--but it required intense class struggle against the lamas and their religious superstitions. The monks denounced antibiotics and public health campaigns, saying it was a sin to kill lice or even germs! The monks denounced the People's Liberation Army for eliminating the large bands of wild, rabies-infested dogs that terrorized people across Tibet. (Still today, one of the "charges" against the Maoist revolution is that it "killed dogs"!)
The Violence of the Lamas
In old Tibet, the upper classes preached mystical Buddhist nonviolence. But, like all ruling classes in history, they practiced reactionary violence to maintain their rule.
The lamaist system of government came into being through bloody struggles. The early lamas reportedly assassinated the last Tibetan king, Lang Darma, in the 10th century. Then they fought centuries of civil wars, complete with mutual massacres of whole monasteries. In the 20th century, the 13th Dalai Lama brought in British imperialist trainers to modernize his national army. He even offered some of his troops to help the British fight World War I.
These historical facts alone prove that lamaist doctrines of "compassion" and "nonviolence" are hypocrisy.
The former ruling class denies there was class struggle in old Tibet. A typical account by Gyaltsen Gyaltag, a representative of the Dalai Lama in Europe, says: "Prior to 1950, the Tibetans never experienced a famine, and social injustices never led to an uprising of the people." It is true that there is little written record of class struggle. The reason is that Lamaism prevented any real histories from being written down. Only disputes over religious dogma were recorded.
But the mountains of Tibet were filled with bandit runaways, and each estate had its armed fighters. This alone is proof that constant struggle--sometimes open, sometimes hidden--defined Tibetan society and its power relations.
Revolutionary historians have documented uprisings among Tibetan serfs in 1908, 1918, 1931, and the 1940s. In one famous uprising, 150 families of serfs of northern Tibet's Thridug county rose up in 1918, led by a woman, Hor Lhamo. They killed the county head, under the slogan: "Down with officials! Abolish all ulag forced labor!"
Daily violence in old Tibet was aimed at the masses of people. Each master punished "his" serfs, and organized armed gangs to enforce his rule. Squads of monks brutalized the people. They were called "Iron Bars" because of the big metal rods they carried to batter people.
It was a crime to "step out of your place"--like hunting fish or wild sheep that the lamaist declared were "sacred." It was even a crime for a serf to appeal his master's decisions to some other authority. When serfs ran away, the masters' gangs went to hunt them down. Each estate had its own dungeons and torture chambers. Pepper was forced under the eyelids. Spikes were forced under the fingernails. Serfs had their legs connected by short chains and were released to wander hobbled for the rest of their lives.
Grunfeld writes: "Buddhist belief precludes the taking of life, so that whipping a person to the edge of death and then releasing him to die elsewhere allowed Tibetan officials to justify the death as 'an act of God.' Other brutal forms of punishment included the cutting off of hands at the wrists, using red-hot irons to gouge out eyes; hanging by the thumbs; and crippling the offender, sewing him into a bag, and throwing the bag in the river."
As signs of the lamas' power, traditional ceremonies used body parts of people who had died: flutes made out of human thigh bones, bowls made out of skulls, drums made from human skin. After the revolution, a rosary was found in the Dalai Lama's palace made from 108 different skulls. After liberation, serfs widely reported that the lamas engaged in ritual human sacrifice--including burying serf children alive in monastery ground-breaking ceremonies. Former serfs testified that at least 21 people were sacrificed by monks in 1948 in hopes of preventing the victory of the Maoist revolution.
Using Karma to Justify Oppression
The central belief of lamaism is reincarnation and karma. Each living being is said to be inhabited by an immortal soul that has been born and reborn many times. After each death, a soul is supposedly given a new body.
According to the dogma of karma, each soul gets the life it deserves: Pious behavior leads to good karma--and with that comes a rise in the social status of the next life. Impious (sinful) behavior leads to bad karma and the next life could be as an insect (or a woman).
In reality, there is no such thing as reincarnation. Dead people do not return in new bodies. But in Tibet, the belief in reincarnation had terrible real consequences. People intrigued by Tibetan mysticism need to understand the social function served by these lamaist beliefs inside Tibet: Lamaist Buddhism was created, imposed and perpetuated to carry out the extreme feudal oppression of the people.
Lamaists today tell the story of an ancient Tibetan king who wanted to close the gap between rich and poor. The king asked a religious scholar why his efforts failed. "The sage is said to have explained to him that the gap between rich and poor cannot be closed by force, since the conditions of present life are always the consequences of actions in earlier lives, and therefore the course of things cannot be changed at will."
Grunfield writes: "From a purely secular point of view, this doctrine must be seen as one of the most ingenious and pernicious forms of social control ever devised. To the ordinary Tibetan, the acceptance of this doctrine precluded the possibility of ever changing his or her fate in this life. If one were born a slave, so the doctrine of karma taught, it was not the fault of the slaveholder but rather the slaves themselves for having committed some misdeeds in a previous life. In turn, the slaveholder was simply being rewarded for good deeds in a previous life. For the slave to attempt to break the chains that bound him, or her, would be tantamount to a self-condemnation to a rebirth into a life worse than the one already being suffered. This is certainly not the stuff of which revolutions are made..."
Tibet's feudalist abbot-lamas taught that their top lama was a single divine god-king-being--whose rule and dog-eat-dog system was demanded by the natural workings of the universe. These myths and superstitions teach that there can be no social change, that suffering is justified, and that to end suffering each person must patiently tolerate suffering. This is almost exactly what Europe's medieval Catholic church taught the people, in order to defend a similar feudal system.
Also like in medieval Europe, Tibet's feudalists fought to suppress anything that might undermine their "watertight" system. All observers agree that, before the Maoist revolution, there were no magazines, printed books, or non-religious literature of any kind in Tibet. The only Tibetan language newspaper was published in Kalimpong by a converted Christian Tibetan. The source of news of the outside world was travelers and a couple of dozen shortwave radios that were owned only by members of the ruling class.
The masses created folklore, but the written language was reserved for religious dogma and disputes. The masses of people and probably most monks were kept completely illiterate. Education, outside news and experimentation were considered suspect and evil.
Defenders of lamaism act like this religion was the essence of the culture (and even the existence) of the Tibetan people. This is not true. Like all things in society and nature, Lamaist Buddhism had a beginning and will have an end. There was culture and ideology in Tibet before lamaism. Then this feudal culture and religion arose together with feudal exploitation. It was inevitable that lamaist culture would shatter together with those feudal relations.
In fact, when the Maoist revolution arrived in 1950, this system was already rotting from within. Even the Dalai Lama admits that the population of Tibet was declining. It is estimated there were about 10 million Tibetans 1,000 years ago when Buddhism was first introduced--by the time of the Maoist revolution there were only two or three million left. Maoists estimate that the decline had accelerated: the population had been cut in half during the last 150 years.
The lamaist system burdened the people with massive exploitation. It enforced the special burden of supporting a huge, parasitic, non-reproducing clergy of about 200,000--that absorbed 20 percent or more of the region's young men. The system suppressed the development of productive forces: preventing the use of iron plows, the mining of coal or fuel, the harvesting of fish or game, and medical/sanitary innovation of any kind. Hunger, the sterility caused by venereal disease, and polyandry kept the birthrate low.
The mystical wrapping of lamaism cannot hide that old Tibetan society was a dictatorship of the serf owners over the serfs. There is nothing to romanticize about this society. The serfs and slaves needed a revolution!
In Part 2:
Tibet Meets the Maoist Revolution
Through the 1930s and '40s, a revolutionary people's war arose among the peasants of central China. Under the leadership of the Communist Party and its Chairman Mao Tsetung, the revolution won overall state power in the heavily populated areas of eastern China in 1949. By then, U.S. intrigues were already starting at China's northern border with Korea, and French imperialists were launching their colonialist invasion of Vietnam along China's southern border. Clearly, the Maoist revolutionaries were eager to liberate the oppressed everywhere in China, and to drive foreign intriguers from China's border regions.
But Tibet posed a particular problem: In 1950, this huge region had been almost completely isolated from the revolutionary whirlwind that swept the rest of China. There were almost no Tibetan communists. There was no communist underground among Tibet's serfs. In fact, the serfs of Tibet had no idea that a revolution was happening elsewhere in their country, or even that such things as "revolutions" were possible.
The grip of the lamaist system and its religion was extremely strong in Tibet. It could not be broken simply by having revolutionary troops of the majority Han nationality march in and "declare" that feudalism was abolished! Mao Tsetung rejected the "commandist" approach of "doing things in the name of the masses." Maoist revolution relies on the masses.
In Part 2 of this series, we will discuss how Maoist revolution got its foothold in Tibet, and how the revolution grew into great mass storms that blew away the lamaist oppression.
The Anguish of Tibet, ed. Petra Kelly, Gert Bastian and Pat Aeillo, Parallax Press, Berkeley, 1991. A collection of pro-lamaist essays.
Avedon, John F. "In Exile from the Land of Snows," in The Anguish of Tibet. Avedon, an author and Newsweekjournalist, is a prominent apologist for lamaism.
Dalai Lama, Freedom in Exile--The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama, Harper Collins, N.Y., 1990.
Grunfeld, A. Tom, The Making of Modern Tibet, Zed Books, 1987.
Grunfeld, A. Tom, "Tibet: Myths and Realities," New China, Fall 1975.
Gyaltag, Gyaltsen, "An Historical Overview," an essay published in The Anguish of Tibet. Gyaltsen Gyaltag is a representative of the Dalai Lama in Europe.
Han Suyin; Lhasa, the Open City--A Journey to Tibet, Putnam, 1977.
Hicks, Roger, Hidden Tibet--The Land and Its People, Element Books, Dorset, 1988.
China Reconstructs, "Tibet--From Serfdom to Socialism," March 1976.
Peking Review, "Tibet's Big Leap--No Return to the Old System," July 4, 1975.
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The True Story of Maoist Revolution in Tibet
Life Under the Dalai Lama in Exile
Revolutionary Worker #765, July 17, 1994
In the mid-1950s, revolutionary land seizures started on some estates ruled by Tibetan lamas and aristocrats. Tibet's feudal ruling class responded by making a secret alliance with the U.S.'s Central Intelligence Agency and attempting armed resistance in 1957 and 1959. (See "The Dalai Lama and the CIA") They were quickly defeated and the Dalai Lama fled to India.
Most of the Tibetan ruling class and conservative forces from other classes followed the Dalai Lama into exile, mainly during 1959-1963. Few came after 1965. The estimates of these conservative Tibetan refugees vary from 30,000 to 100,000.
They were met at the border by agents of the CIA eager to organize them as a force against the Maoist revolution. CIA agents started an anti-communist army among the Dalai Lama's exile forces and a propaganda machine was set up to package "their story" for worldwide consumption.
In the United States, an "American Emergency Committee for Tibetan Refugees" (AECTR) was hastily formed in March 1959. Headed by right-wing journalist Lowell Thomas and liberal anti-communist Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, this agency had a brief life--a few months spent funneling money into India to set up the Tibetan feudalists in exile. Tibet historian A. Tom Grunfeld writes: "Although the complete story of the committee is yet untold, there remains much speculation and considerable circumstantial evidence that a major source of its funding was the CIA."
Many refugees were also robbed by corrupt Indian border officials. Grunfeld reports that one refugee complained that the corruption and bribery in India "were every bit as common as they used to be in Tibet."
One Tibetan memoir reports that "the sons and daughters of Tibetan aristocrats and wealthy Tibetans, studying in colleges or working around Darjeeling, did not come to help." Such indifference is typical of old Tibet's lazy, self-centered ruling class.
Under the watchful eyes of the Indian government and the CIA, the refugee camps were set up to preserve what the exile leadership considered most precious of the old Tibetan order. For decades, the Dalai Lama's forces have traveled the world denouncing the changes made in Tibet by the Maoist revolution during the stormy class struggles of 1959-1976. So it is only fair that we Maoists discuss what these Tibetan settlements in India reveal about the class nature of the Dalai Lama and his exile headquarters.
Forced Labor for India's War Machine
The Indian government was extremely unhappy about having a powerful revolutionary army at its northern border--especially after 1959 when the hurricane of peasant land revolution swept into Tibet. India itself is a vast semi-feudal country--it was filled with exploited peasants who were watching the lessons and methods of Maoist revolution closely.
As the Tibetan refugees arrived in India, the Indian military was feverishly preparing for war with Mao's "Red China." The Dalai Lama and his Kashag cabinet reached an agreement with India's Nehru government: in exchange for settlement land and supplies, the Dalai Lama offered thousands of Tibetan refugees as forced labor. They were sent to high mountain workcamps building military roads for the Indian army to attack the Maoist revolution in China.
In 95 workcamps, 18,000 to 21,000 Tibetan refugees were worked under horrible conditions. They were paid 30 cents a day, not enough for food. Many starved or were simply worked to death. Many died of illnesses, dynamite explosions and landslides. Grunfeld reports that even Tibetan refugee officials admitted in 1964 that these workers were worse off than they would have been if they had remained in Tibet.
When the refugees were sent to the workcamps, many of their children were forcibly taken from them. Grunfeld says that "five thousand children were taken from their parents to live in permanent refugee camps. Three thousand others were permitted to stay with the parents in the road camps...and there were frequent reports of children under the age of fifteen engaged in hazardous work."
Some lamaist hypocrisy needs to be pointed out here: For decades the Dalai Lama denounced the Maoist revolutionaries for building roads in Tibet--and accused the revolutionaries of using "forced labor." His lamaist propaganda machine denounced the revolution for making his lamaist clergy do physical labor (like raising their own food) and for supposedly weakening the traditional Tibetan family. Meanwhile the exile forces of the Dalai Lama basically handed over Tibetan refugees to be forced labor for the Indian government on road gangs and took their children from them.
In his 1990 autobiography the Dalai Lama specifically describes how he personally worked out the details for the work camps in discussions with India's Nehru, and the Dalai Lama notes that there were former nuns and monks out on the road gangs. The Dalai Lama adds that, at the time, he tried to look at the positive aspects of these ordeals, saying "pain is what you measure pleasure by." Ulag forced labor is a key social custom of traditional Tibetan feudalism, in which feudal masters can demand forced labor from "their" serfs and slaves.
In 1990 the Dalai Lama admitted that some Tibetan exiles were still working in such road camps. But, he wrote that this is not deplorable because today's poor Tibetans are on road gangs "of their own free will"--as wage labor.
The Golden Rule
The ruling Tibetan exiles left Tibet because the coming revolution in land threatened the basis of their class and its power--the feudal ownership of land. Class distinctions and privileges was key to the "traditional culture" the Lamaists intended to preserve.
The old Tibetan government and ruling class emerged as the rulers over the refugees. The Dalai Lama's Kashag cabinet represented the most powerful clerical and aristocratic interests. His family, especially his powerful brothers, emerged with their hands on key funds, especially CIA money. The Dalai Lama himself served as the top ruler with his hand firmly on many purse strings.
The hereditary ties of serf and lord did not carry over in the exact same forms to the chaos of exile, but new oppressive class structures were created. In the main they were based on modern capitalism's "Golden Rule": He who has the gold makes the rules.
Over the years, the Dalai Lama has maintained his power over an intensely squabbling and divided movement by keeping his tight control over the money. From the beginning, he controlled millions of dollars--from a treasure trove of gold and silver extracted from the masses of Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama says it was worth $8 million.
Grunfeld writes: "One of the major sources of political power for the Dalai Lama is his ability to control relief funds, educational scholarships and the hiring of Tibetan teachers and bureaucrats."
Each camp was run by a "Camp Leader" appointed by the Dalai Lama. One scholarly study of these exile camps reports that the Camp Leader "is considered the king of the settlement. He can virtually command people within the settlement."
The corruption of the Tibetan exile camps is notorious. Relief supplies, particularly medical supplies, have been found on sale in the market in MacLeod Ganj, less than two miles from the Dalai Lama's place of residence.
Grunfeld reports that "the relief operations have been bedeviled with organizational rivalry and the intrigues of `unsavory members of the Tibetan ruling clique.' " The Dalai Lama's late sister Tsering Dolma was a well-known example of the "unsavory"--she was widely hated for the haughty and corrupt way she ran a personal empire of children's "boarding schools" containing over 3,000 children.
Grunfeld writes, "while the children in her care were frequently on the verge of starvation (a refugee worker recalls an incident in which she was attacked by starving children as she was carrying a plate of breakfast scraps) she was noted for her formal, twelve-course luncheons. Meanwhile in bitterly cold weather the children were clad in `thin, torn, sleeveless cotton frocks--though when VIPs visit the Upper Nursery every child is dressed warmly in tweeds, wool, heavy socks and strong boots.' "
Deadly Class Distinctions
Eighty percent of the Tibetan refugees settled in India--with most of the rest settling in Bhutan, Nepal, and Sikkim. The Indian government did not want all the Tibetans concentrated in one area--so settled them in 20 camps widely scattered throughout India.
The lowland camps in southern India were deadly to Tibetans who were not accustomed to living in a hot, humid climate. The old Tibetan feudal customs regarding sewage, garbage, washing and cooking proved deadly in the heat--where disease ravaged the refugees. In one early camp half the refugees died in the first year.
The Dalai Lama's clique developed a simple system for deciding who settled where. Rich feudals and the anti-communist activists stayed in the cool, hilly camps of north India. The poor serf-exiles went to the hot, humid, crowded, deadly camps of the south.
One study of Tibetans in the north found that 25 percent described themselves as previously very rich, 20 percent as rich, 40 percent as middle class, 15 percent as lower-middle class. None said they had been "poor" back in pre-revolutionary Tibet. The researcher summed up that in northern settlements, "The refugees disproportionately represented the monastic hierarchy, upper classes and the active participants in the Tibetan resistance movement."
A study of the Mundgood settlement in the south found that almost all had been poor serfs, herders and artisans in old Tibet. Not only was life in the south a death sentence for many poor exiles, but over the following years much less money was spent on creating jobs and schools in those southern camps.
Class exploitation appeared within the camps too. The Dalai Lama describes how he cashed in his gold stash and set up capitalist enterprises using Tibetan refugees as wage labor--an iron pipe factory, a paper mill and other enterprises he calls "money-spinning projects."
One southern camp at Bylakuppe eventually got some capital to set up a dairy farm and carpet factories. A section of exiles used the "aid" to became full-scale exploiters--working neighboring landless Indian peasants as field hands and house servants.
Meanwhile, the masses of poor exiles live in wretched conditions. Grunfeld quotes an American doctor saying in 1980 that most refugees were "living in extreme poverty in unhealthy settlements on `leftover' land in the poorest areas of India. Most of their energies are devoted to the personal struggle for survival...the people sink into poverty, apathy, illness, alcoholism and despair."
When people talk of "preserving traditional Tibetan culture" they should remember the deadly class distinctions central to that feudal society.
Preserving Some Customs, Modifying Others
For obvious reasons, Tibet's exiled lamaists don't talk publicly about preserving central Tibetan traditions like ulag (forced labor) and serfdom. In the recent pro-lamaist film Little Buddha, for example, lamas are shown carrying whips when they instruct courtyards filled with young monk-novices--but the whips are portrayed as a gentle instructional device (like a coach's whistle).
In his 1990 autobiography, the Dalai Lama admits that he had to forbid some traditional "formalities" in front of foreigners. For instance, by tradition lower-class Tibetans were punished if they looked above the knees of their masters. In the old society, many had never seen the faces of their oppressors. And everyone was required to "prostrate" themselves face-and-belly-down in front of the Dalai Lama. Outsiders seeing those customs got a glimpse of the repulsive elitism so central to the Lamaist teachings--the rulers of old Tibet claim to be divine, perfected reincarnations of immortal Buddha-like spirits. The Dalai Lama modified such "formalities" to help create a romanticized version of "traditional Tibetan culture" for public consumption.
At the same time, the lamaists set up highly conservative communities that did, in fact, preserve many core feudal traditions. For example, Grunfeld writes: "Women are even worse off than their male counterparts, for they need permission--from a male--to leave the camp; they cannot vote; and they are given second preference when it comes to education."
Grunfeld estimates that half the Tibetan children in exile receive no education--in keeping with lamaist hostility toward mass education. And those youth who go to school are often indoctrinated in lamaist teachings hostile to science, innovation and work. Grunfeld cites one discontented Tibetan who claimed that his nephew, after nine years of schooling, had never read a newspaper or an entire book.
Another hypocrisy must be pointed out here: For years, Tibetan exiles have denounced Maoists for the fact that, even during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, advanced education in Tibet was often taught in the Han (Chinese) language. There were two reasons for this: There were basically no books or teachers available to teach many advanced political and scientific subjects in the Tibetan language, and it helped the unity of the revolutionary movement to have Tibetan activists and cadre able to communicate in the written language widely used by many language groups in China. At the same time, Maoist revolutionaries mobilized the Tibetan people to develop Tibetan-language typewriters and to create condition where the Tibetan language could be used far more broadly in higher education and government.
Meanwhile, it must be pointed out that the lamaists adopted English as the main language of instruction in their exile school system. The Dalai Lama tries to justify this practice in his 1990 autobiography by repeating the argument used in India's neocolonial school system--that English is "the international language of the future."
There is more hypocrisy: In their propaganda, the Tibetan upper class exiles make a fetish about "Tibet's traditional culture." In reality, many have contemptuously shed this traditional culture, sending their children to expensive English boarding schools. The Dalai Lama's authorized biographer Roger Hicks describes how, by the late 1960s and early 1970s, that younger generation was becoming largely westernized.
The Dalai Lama's youngest brother, Tendzin Choegyal, is a famous example of this. He is supposed to be the eighth incarnation of an immortal spirit called Ngari Rimpoche. He was educated at the prestigious Catholic St. Joseph prep school in Darjeeling, where the rector claimed Choegyal had "forgotten all that nonsense about being an Incarnation." Hicks reports that Choegyal himself says, "I'm a banana--yellow on the outside and white on the inside."
Grunfeld points out that the exiled Dalai Lama's money and power only continues as long as there are many stateless refugees. Consequently, it was to the benefit of the exile leadership to keep the masses of Tibetans in children's homes, transit camps and temporary facilities for decades. For the same reasons, the Dalai Lama's "government" opposes mixed marriages between Tibetan exiles and Indians and opposes masses of exiled Tibetans applying for citizenship in India--even though this legal status would make their lives much easier. Meanwhile it is common for the wealthy Tibetan upper class to apply for non-Tibetan status--including two of the Dalai Lama's brothers who are U.S. citizens.
Many poor Tibetan exiles have their own reasons for rejecting the ways of old feudal Tibet. Grunfeld writes: "An anthropologist who interviewed many of the poorer refugees reported that they viewed the old society with some sense of shame and discussed it with outsiders only with extreme reluctance; he reported that `a number indicated to me that they would prefer to remain in Mysore [India] rather than return to Tibet as it was under the old system."
The Dalai Lama's public relations apparatus feeds the outside world a travel brochure image of Tibetan exile life: as a spiritual Shangrila of noble monks waiting to bring their blessed "traditional culture" back to an impatiently waiting Tibetan people. This media image is essentially a cruel and brutal hoax.
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The True Story of Maoist Revolution in Tibet
The Earthly Dreams of the Dalai Lama
Revolutionary Worker #767, August 7, 1994
In the late 1980s the cities of Tibet were repeatedly rocked by sharp anti-government struggles. The rebellions were suppressed by government bullets and mass arrest. These Tibetan rebellions rescued the Dalai Lama from long years of international obscurity. Suddenly in the late 1980s he was lionized by powerful forces throughout the world--and even honored with the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.
A highly romanticized image of the Dalai Lama is being presented for public consumption: the Dalai Lama is portrayed as a modern saint waging a nonviolent struggle against impossible odds. He is presented as the leader and spiritual center of a "Free Tibet" independence movement--fighting against China's powerful central government headed by Deng Xiaoping.
This image is essentially false.
The truth is that for almost 20 years, the Dalai Lama has pinned his main hopes on making a deal with China's top leader, Deng Xiaoping. He hopes that his exiled aristocracy can be restored to some portion of its previous privilege and power--in exchange for helping to stabilize this region for China's current rulers.
In 1987 the Dalai Lama withdrew previous demands for Tibetan independence and for the withdrawal of Chinese troops from Tibet. In 1994 he even came out in favor of the U.S. renewing "Most Favored Nation" (MFN) trading status for China--shocking many of his U.S. supporters, who were demanding that the U.S. government withhold MFN status to force a change in China's Tibet policy.
In other words, as the oppression and the <%1>resistance of Tibet's people grew through the 1980s the Dalai Lama has more and more openly offered himself to the current Chinese government--using the struggles within Tibet as a bargaining chip in his negotiations.
The Motives of a Deposed God-King
The Dalai Lama offering himself to Deng Xiaoping? Wanting an accommodation with the regime that shot down protesters in Lhasa and Tiananmen and that flooded Tibet's cities with troops and Han immigrants?
Some will find this hard to believe. But the truth is that, since going into exile in 1959, the whole politics of the Dalai Lama's circles have revolved around somehow regaining their privileged status over Tibet's people. This flowed from their basic class nature--as the exiled core of an overthrown feudal ruling class.
Before the revolution, Tibet's monasteries trained an elite of initiated clergy who spent their isolated lives chanting and debating religious dogmas. With its intense mysticism and self-absorbed meditation--Buddhist Lamaism presents its monastic life as a network of spiritual oases cut off from the dirty business of everyday life. Supporters of the Dalai Lama are sometimes impressed by the "peaceful" demeanor of the monks they meet. But, in reality, those monks and their monasteries are never cut off from class society: Tibet's religio-aristocratic culture is inconceivable without its economic foundation in serfdom and slavery.
In a discussion of India, Chairman Avakian describes how seemingly unworldly monastic practices are deeply tied up with the suffering of the basic masses: "Here were all these learned monks and all this knowledge was concentrated in the Buddhist monasteries in ancient India, and yet these monks--not that they necessarily lived extremely lavish lives themselves, some of them were quite ascetic and lived rather simply--nevertheless their whole way of life and more than that all the learning and knowledge that they were privy to and that they were able to take up was based...on a foundation of cruel and extreme exploitation and enslavement of the basic masses of people in that society. And there is also the question, of course, of the content and the worth of such knowledge and `wisdom' that is acquired by monks, scholars and so on, in conditions where they are divorced from the basic masses and in fact enabled to lead their lives of `scholarship' and `devotion' only and precisely because of the exploitation and enslavement of the masses." (Revolution magazine, Fall 1990, p. 36)
In short, Lamaist Buddhism is a network of social institutions that arose on the basis of feudal ownership of land and serfs. And, in turn, Lamaist doctrine justified that exploitation by insisting that the righteous are born to rule and sinners are born to suffer.
The ruling class of old Tibet deeply understands these connections: Their dreams of restoring "religious freedom" and "traditional culture" to Tibet require some form of ownership over Tibet's land and exploitation of its people. In the most fundamental way, this overthrown class and its political programs have nothing to do with liberating Tibet's people.
Once this class nature is grasped, the motivation behind the many twists of the Dalai Lama's political road can be seen.
The Dalai Lama's First Great Disappointment
Once Tibet's ruling class fled into exile, in 1959, they had two hopes: first, that they could carry on their idleness and introspection in exile, and second, that some great power would emerge from somewhere and reinstall them in their previous splendor...in Tibet.
For ten years during the 1960s, Tibet's exiled feudals thought U.S. imperialism would be their great savior. The Tibetan feudalists headquartered in the Indian town of Dharamsala tried to portray themselves as a Western-style government-in-exile: They adopted a national flag, an anthem, and even a "constitution" which combined the rule of divine lamas with a paper parliament. This charade was similar to the way the CIA's Nicaraguan contras learned to praise "democracy and human rights" during fundraising junkets to Washington, D.C. during the 1980s.
But Tibet's pampered and divided exiles were a poor fighting force with little effective support back in Tibet. By the early '70s, the CIA rudely dumped the Tibetan exiles.
U.S. imperialism was never particularly interested in Tibet--except as a platform for pressuring China. The U.S. never intended to install the lamaists as rulers over some future "independent Tibet." Like every other government in the world, the U.S. government officially held that Tibet was historically part of China, and the U.S. government never recognized the Dalai Lama's organization as a legal "government-in-exile."
The real strategic goal of the U.S. policy was to contain the Maoist revolution and eventually to "reopen" the whole of China for U.S. exploitation. Once the U.S. saw openings within the Chinese government itself--it lost interest in the corrupt and isolated Tibetan exile army.
In his 1990 autobiography, the Dalai Lama calls those CIA days of the mid-'60s "a high point in the Tibetan resettlement programme." He complains bitterly about the way his U.S. patrons dumped him.
After that rude double-cross, the Dalai Lama has only had one real hope for restoration: that someday a government would emerge in Beijing that was willing to share power with him and remnants of Tibet's old ruling class.
The Dalai Lama's Hopes for Deng Xiaoping
From the beginning of their exile, Tibet's old ruling class understood that the rightist forces associated with Deng Xiaoping represented a very different line from the revolutionary forces associated with Mao Tsetung. From powerful posts within the Chinese Communist Party, Deng and other capitalist-roaders argued against encouraging revolutionary movements in Tibet--saying that the Chinese Communist Party should share power with Tibet's old ruling class into the foreseeable future and leave much of Tibetan feudalism untouched.
When Deng returned to political prominence in April 1973, the Dalai Lama openly expressed hopes of returning to Lhasa. As Maoists said at that time, Deng stood for "restoring the rites" throughout China. The following year, the Dalai Lama ordered the last of his anti-communist guerrillas to lay down their arms.
The exiled lamaists were thrilled when Deng Xiaoping rose to overall power in China, after the 1976 anti-Maoist coup. Lamaist circles were so pleased by Mao's death and the arrest of his followers that rumors spread that these events had been caused by prayers during the Dalai Lama's 1976 Kalachakra ceremony.
Since 1960, when Maoist revolutionaries started organizing land seizures in Tibet, there had been no contact between Beijing and the exiles in Dharamsala. But in 1977, right after the anti-Maoist coup, Deng Xiaoping himself sent a secret emissary to the Dalai Lama's CIA-agent brother, Gyalo Thondup. Top Chinese officials publicly called for the restoration of feudal Tibetan ways and for a return of Tibetan exiles--including the Dalai Lama himself.
In 1977, when the exiled Tibetan Youth Congress reaffirmed its support for armed action against Chinese government forces, the Dalai Lama's headquarters ordered the group to disband.
The lamaists welcomed the restorationist "reforms" of the late 1970s--when China's new rulers started to overturn the People's Communes in Tibet's countryside. In their eyes, such return to private ownership of land might pave the way toward reconstructing their old feudal superstructure.
Problems with the Deal
Years of negotiations between Beijing and Dharamsala went nowhere. After 1983, Beijing's revisionist rulers apparently decided that they could consolidate their new order in Tibet without accommodating the Dalai Lama and his exiles. The central Chinese government started flooding Tibet's cities with Han workers, technicians and merchants. (Han people are the majority nationality in China.) And they started restoring some Tibetan monasteries --building a network of clergy controlled by the central government, not by the Dalai Lama.
In 1987 the Dalai Lama complained that the Chinese revisionists "attempted to reduce the question of Tibet to a discussion of my own personal status." The exiled lamaists wanted the feudal right to select young children for their monasteries and they wanted limitations on government control of their religious institutions. In a book of interviews, Tibet, China and the World, the Dalai Lama discusses a key obstacle in his discussions with the Chinese government, "They feel that simply reciting some mantras, making rounds of temples, making prostrations, carrying a prayer wheel and rosary are sufficient to practice religion. So superficially there is religious freedom. But the Chinese simply have no idea of the need to have a proper teacher, the need to study in depth and practice seriously in proper settings."
The Dalai Lama was not content with a right of safe return and formal religious freedom for believers--he wanted "proper settings" for restoring the whole monastic way of life.
In effect, the exiled lamaists wanted the new Chinese state-capitalists to share a significant part of power and wealth of Tibetan society with the old feudal ruling class--so that the clergy could reproduce the system of large monasteries that lived off the labor of the Tibetan masses.
These negotiations were not about improving the conditions and rights of the Tibetan people. These negotiations were about restoring the privileged world of the old ruling aristocracy--by demanding a slice of the surplus wealth that the new Chinese government has been extracting from Tibet's laboring people.
It appears that the Chinese government thought that the Dalai Lama was making unacceptably large demands--without offering anything particularly useful in exchange. For a second time, the Dalai Lama's hopes of restoration were dashed.
Using the Struggle of the People to Press for a Deal
As negotiations sank into stalemate, the Dalai Lama desperately changed his tactics: he decided to pressure China's government by manipulating international tensions and by fanning the growing discontent within Tibet's towns.
On September 21, 1987 the Dalai Lama unveiled a "Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet" in a talk to a caucus of the U.S. Congress. Its central idea was that Greater Tibet should become a demilitarized buffer state between China and India. He envisioned a withdrawal of Chinese government troops, military bases, and nuclear facilities from the Tibetan Autonomous Region and most of the nearby provinces of Qinghai and Sechuan. One of his five points demanded that China's Han immigration policy should be abandoned.
This plan resembled proposals the Soviets had been putting forward for carving various "peace zones" in areas dominated by U.S. imperialism. The Dalai Lama pointedly used a Hindi (Indian-language) word Ahimsa to describe his buffer state. The Dalai Lama had been flirting with the Soviet Union and its ally India off and on--now he planned to use his Five Point Plan to pressure the U.S. to pressure China to make a deal.
Within a week after the Dalai Lama's Five Point speech, a major nationalist rebellion was started by monks in Lhasa. The timing of the uprising seemed more than a coincidence. The tensions that had built up during a decade of increasing Han immigration exploded--a police station was stormed. Hundreds were killed by government troops. More disturbances broke out during 1988.
For the Dalai Lama, this outbreak of struggle meant that he finally had a real bargaining chip for his negotiations: he could offer to contain this new nationalist movement, in exchange for a substantial niche within the new revisionist order.
Amid widespread international attention to the Lhasa rebellions, various great powers publicly pressured the Chinese government to resume negotiations with the Dharamsala exiles. According to the historian A. Tom Grunfeld, Nepalese officials believed that the central Chinese government might reach a deal with the Dalai Lama--in order to prove to the rulers of Hong Kong and Taiwan that merger into a unified Chinese state would not necessarily mean ceding all power to Beijing.
Abandoning the Demand for Independence
The Dalai Lama quickly moved to position himself for new negotiations with Beijing: he publicly distanced himself from the violent Lhasa disturbances and urged Tibetans inside and outside Tibet to prepare to accept an accommodation with the Chinese government. And, to the surprise of his own supporters, he publicly abandoned the demands for Tibetan independence and for the withdrawal of Chinese troops--even though such demands had been prominent in the Tibetan protests and in his own Five Point Plan.
Before the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, France on June 18, 1988, the Dalai Lama proposed that Tibet remain in "association" with the Beijing government and that central government troops remain in Tibet for an undefined period of time. In this scheme, the central Chinese government would control Tibetan foreign policy and military affairs while the region would have an autonomous economic and cultural life under a secular regional government. This meant that he envisioned the clergy rebuilding their monastery system but not taking over the government. This was the public unveiling of the deal the Dalai Lama had long been hoping to negotiate.
In his book of interviews, the Dalai Lama called on his supporters to accept this accommodation: "Actually we are trying to find some sort of middle way... On many occasions, I have said that the human boundary is always changing. Under certain circumstances, I explained that two nations can be combined under one nation.... So theoretically, we Tibetans who number six million may get more benefit if we join the thousand million Chinese, rather than become an independent country."
Edward Lazar, a prominent pro-lamaist activist, writes in the book The Anguish of Tibet: "The official position of the Tibetan government-in-exile and the Dalai Lama, as restated in the Strasbourg Statement of June 15, 1988, is for accommodation with China. And most writing about Tibet serves to obscure the fact that the goal for Tibet is not defined as independence.... The word itself, `independence,' is avoided in official Tibetan pronouncements and is avoided at meetings. `Independence' is not one of the hundreds of index entries in the Dalai Lama's new autobiography. The idea of independence is so dangerous that it is only referred to as the `I'-word in some Tibet circles."
The Dalai Lama quickly nominated a team of negotiators for new talks scheduled for January 1989 in Geneva. But in the spring of 1989 both Lhasa and Tiananmen Square were rocked by powerful protests that were suppressed by bloody government attack. Tibet was placed under martial law--and the Geneva talks never happened.
Flattering the Head of China's Bloody New Government
These massacres did not stop the Dalai Lama from upholding Deng Xiaoping, the anti-Maoist head of China's current government. In his recent autobiography the Dalai Lama claims to have longstanding admiration for Deng: "Towards the end of 1978, there was a further encouraging development when Deng Xiaoping emerged as paramount authority in Peking. As leader of a more moderate faction, his ascendancy seemed to signal real hope for the future. I had always felt that Deng might one day do great things for his country. When I was in China during 1954-5, I met him a number of times and had been very impressed by him. We never had any long conversations but I heard much about him--particularly that he was a man of great ability and very decisive too. The last time I saw him... he struck me as a powerful man. Now it began to look as if, in addition to these qualities, he was also quite wise."
These words were written in 1990--in the wake of bloody repression, mass arrest and martial law in both Tibet and Beijing.
The Dalai Lama's naked attempts to accommodate to the Beijing government deepened splits within his exile movement. One of the Dalai Lama's main international envoys, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, talks of "internal critics" who say "the Dalai Lama is trying to sell out Tibet." Some westernized, upper class Tibetans born in exile--grouped around the Tibetan Youth Congress--loudly opposed his approach. They pushed for a policy of trying to break up China--hopi
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Re: Certain Tibetan Buddhist Activists as Reactionaries & Front Men for Amerikkkan Imperialism
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16 Dec 2004
Ha, ha, ha