On this day in history… March 10, 1959
TIBETAN REBELLION STARTS
On this day in 1959, Tibetans band together in revolt, surrounding the summer palace of the Dalai Lama in defiance of Chinese occupation forces. After only a two-day battle, they were defeated by the Chinese communist troops. What followed was killing, looting and destruction of Tibetan monasteries and homes in which some 87,000 people lost their lives.
That’s the official History.com summary about the 1959 Tibetan rebellion. Actually what happened there is analogous to Tibet playing the role of Cinderella and the American government that of the evil stepmother. Except that this Cinderella never found the glass slipper and is still waiting find her prince charming.
CIA’s Tibetan War
In reality, ever since the 1950 Chinese takeover of Tibet, the CIA ran a covert operation there designed to train Tibetan insurgents and gather intelligence about the Chinese. It was part of its efforts to contain the spread of communism around the world. Though little known today, the program produced at least one spectacular intelligence coup and provided a source of support for the Dalai Lama. On the eve of Richard Nixon’s 1972 meeting with Mao, however, the program was abruptly cancelled, thus leaving the would-be Tibetan insurgents high and dry (see The CIA’s Cancelled War).
The Other Tibetan Rebellion
And then there is something else that the official history of Tibet usually does not mention – The Other Tibetan Rebellion. in 1905, The rebellion in Yunnan province began with a series of attacks on Christian missionaries and converts and ended with the imperial Chinese government re-asserting control of the province. So the same outcome as in 1959, only a different Chinese government. (For more, see http://military.wikia.com/wiki/1905_Tibetan_Rebellion).
WHAT LED TO THE 1959 REBELLION?
China’s latest occupation of Tibet began nearly a decade before, in October 1950, when troops from its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded the country, barely one year after the Communists gained full control of mainland China. The Tibetan government gave into Chinese pressure the following year, signing a treaty that ensured the power of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the country’s spiritual leader, over Tibet’s domestic affairs. Resistance to the Chinese occupation built steadily over the next several years, including a revolt in several areas of eastern Tibet in 1956.
By December 1958, rebellion was simmering in Lhasa, the capital, and the PLA command threatened to bomb the city if order was not maintained.
The March 1959 uprising in Lhasa was triggered by fears of a plot to kidnap the Dalai Lama and take him to Beijing. When Chinese military officers invited His Holiness to visit the PLA headquarters for a theatrical performance and official tea, he was told he must come alone, and that no Tibetan military bodyguards or personnel would be allowed past the edges of the military camp. On March 10, 300,000 loyal Tibetans surrounded Norbulinka Palace, preventing the Dalai Lama from accepting the PLA’s invitation.
By March 17, Chinese artillery was aimed at the palace, and the Dalai Lama was evacuated to neighboring India. Fighting broke out in Lhasa two days later, with Tibetan rebels hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. Early on March 21, the Chinese began shelling Norbulinka, slaughtering tens of thousands of men, women and children still camped outside. In the aftermath, the PLA cracked down on Tibetan resistance, executing the Dalai Lama’s guards and destroying Lhasa’s major monasteries along with thousands of their inhabitants.
China’s stranglehold on Tibet and its brutal suppression of separatist activity has continued in the decades following the unsuccessful uprising. Tens of thousands of Tibetans followed their leader to India, where the Dalai Lama has long maintained a government-in-exile in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Dalai Lama is still alive today and is honored all over the world, except in the US. When he was finally received by a sitting American president (Obama), the two met in a White House side room (Map Room rather than the Oval Office). His Holiness was then escorted out of the White House through the back door and past the trash cans.
The date was June 15, 2016. All that was done so as not to upset the Chinese communists who govern Tibet now.