Tibet 101: Today’s Tibet

The most screenplayed and least explained of the
national liberation movements currently spoken of in the mainstream
press is undoubtedly that of Tibet. We are treated to emotion evoking
images of terror and sorrow in such Hollywood offerings as “Seven Years
In Tibet”and “Kundun”. Short of content and discussion, these movies
provide any decent person with ample righteousness in condemning
“atrocities” carried out by a heartless, power hungry and expansionist
Chinese Communist Party.

The most screenplayed and least explained of the
national liberation movements currently spoken of in the mainstream
press is undoubtedly that of Tibet. We are treated to emotion evoking
images of terror and sorrow in such Hollywood offerings as “Seven Years
In Tibet”and “Kundun”. Short of content and discussion, these movies
provide any decent person with ample righteousness in condemning
“atrocities” carried out by a heartless, power hungry and expansionist
Chinese Communist Party.

There are countless groups from all sorts of first
world (i.e.- Imperialist) countries pressing for a “Free Tibet!” using
the charming and seemingly humble Dalai Lama as their spokesman of
The Dalai himself has been awarded the Nobel peace prize, adding fuel to
a cause that, it would seem, only racists and Chinese bureaucrats and
Nationalists would dare oppose. Yet there are several things that do not
add up, and many secrets not spoken about all this that cry for
clarification. It does not seem that such information is forthcoming
from those who wished to be viewed as the bearers of expertise on this “untouchable” issue. So let’s “touch” the issues.

Some questions either omitted or refuted through gross
distortion are begged, such as: 1. What was Tibet like during the period
before People’s Liberation Army intervention? 2. Who is the Dalai Lama
now and historically? What is the Chinese argument to maintain
jurisdiction? 3. Has Tibet ever been sovereign? Why do Bill Clinton and
other decidedly anti-liberation leaders and governments wish to embrace
“Tibetan Freedom”? 4. Aside from the one-sided stories of murder and
mayhem, what new policies have been implemented in Tibet since the
occupation? 5. For a poor, third world region what does “freedom” amount
to in practical terms, outside of the (newly raised) slogans of
“American style democracy”?

These questions, usually afforded dismissal when not
merely accorded ommission by the mainstream press, require real,
objective answers for all those seeking the best interests of Tibet and
her inhabitants.

Unlike the “Shangri-la” image of Tibet before 1959
usually portrayed by movies and Richard Gere types, Tibet was a lot more
complicated and unpleasant than what is spoken today. The reality seems
almost a matter of common sense. What region, dirt poor and neglected
has ever been the site of merely “religious and spiritual harmony”? The
Tibet of old was, in fact, a theocracy. Religious rites were law, and
public input was never sought. In the charter of law, women had no
rights, being only those who produced further Tibetans. Tibet may have
been very much a land of spiritual wealth, but as is often the case,
this was dependent entirely on your material wealth. A country with only
land that was barely productive for cultivation of sparse crops and
little else, the wealth was almost non-existent. In order to achieve
some form of economy without damaging economic, religious and political
privilege, Tibet had only around 100 families who owned nearly all the
land in what was a de-facto serf-feudal economy. As was done in
establishing relations with the ” Post-Communist” Russian Federation, any
so-called independent Tibet would be required to return ” stolen” (i.e.
Nationalized) property to it’s pre-’59 owners. Some estimates have gone
as high as 20 percent of the population being outright slaves, bought
and sold. These numbers are inconsistent with two facts: There were not
enough people in Tibet with resources to provide subsistence to slaves
for such a large figure, and the feudal slavery that was the lot of
ninety percent of Tibet was far more cost effective for the nobility
than the cloak of religion. Five percent is the number that most
objective non-partisan researchers agree on.

Monks had to be male, and inherit the social status
of the previous generation in what was an inaccesible inner-ring of
power. Slaves and serfs who ventured to break free of their social
position were subjected to torture, such as live-skinning and tortuous
burns to keep them in place and serve as an unspoken warning to others
who might dare the same revolt. The image fostered of Tibetans studying
prayers and meditations is far more mis-leading than it is outright
false. As already mentioned, Tibet was spiritual for those with the
material to back it up. However, this picture is propagandistic because
Tibetans has an overall literacy rate estimated at less than 5 percent.
” Estimates” need to be gathered because the leadership of Tibet would
never attempt such a humane census. Only two schools, both run by the
monasteries, existed before 1959. Both of these educated the next crop
of priveliged monks. Lacking the access to education and innundated with
a reactionary brand of Buddhism, Tibetans who were very poor even
developed a legend that if you kill a rich foreigner, you will inherit
his ” luck” . Infant mortality was higher than anywhere else in mainland

As with most, if not all feudalisms, any wealth
deemed important to the hierarchy of Tibet was just taken. In other
words, when the livestock (almost only yaks and sheep) was limited for
meat, a serf would watch helplessly as the monks carted them off for
their own consumption. As necessary, this was done by murderous force.

As far as the Dalai Lama, do not be deceived by
his ” respectable” credentials. Nobel Peace Prize winners have included
such men as covert operation king Henry Kissinger, supposedly for
bringing peace in Vietnam, which only he and his cohorts had prevented
through bombimg campaigns for the previous 20 years. This ” prize” was
the Wests’ answer to the Stalin Peace Prize, awarded to Paul Robeson,
among others. In fact, the Dalai Lama has been on the CIA payroll and
contact list since before the 1959 intervention. The Dalai’s role was
less than peaceful, much less than moral. In 1951, the Tibetan
authorities signed an agreement with the Communist Party of China that
was in the mold of all the other Sino-Tibetan charters; Tibet was an
autonomous region of China with her own local authorities, answerable to
the central government in Beijing. This did not dignify a new motherland
for Tibet, rather, it showed a new administration for the old
motherland. The new government, being a socialist governing body, laid
out a plan for the slow transformation of Tibets’ property relations ,
to be completed by 1964. This was too much for a priveliged elite
dependent on those relations, so when the CIA approached the Dalai and
his patrons in the late `50’s, he was very accommodating. In 1959 there
were undoubtedly many Tibetans who wanted an end to their centuries old
domination. A state was now demanded by the theocracy, and even the
poorest peasants who wanted to live without China joined up—at first.
When the PLA arrived to put down the “revolt” of the aristocrats, the
slogan of the national revolution of a decade previous, “land to the
tiller” was raised. This left the Dalai Lama with mostly only Monks and
slave owners (As well as quite a bit of American sponsored weaponry) to
fight with, the peasants either opting out of the fight or joining the
Communists. With this, the foreign sponsored “uprising” was quickly
crushed, and the land reform sped up by five years, freeing many
de-facto slaves in the process. The Dalai Lamas’ escape was so well
orchestrated against tremendous odds, it has been said to have become a
legend inside the CIA. The Dalai Lama, in a total about face from his
previous attempts to work with the new government, started talking about
“Tibetan Independence” and the like. At this point, the Dalai Lama and
company got heavily involved in the CIA, receiving hundreds of millions
of dollars of aid and weaponry throughout the sixties and seventies to
start a terrorist-style “contra war”, much of the type which terrorised
the young Nicaraguan revolution into submission throughout the Eighties.
In an article just released on Oct 7 in the NY Times, the Dalai Lama
stated in his defense that the money all went to “the cause”, and not
him. Okay, so he’s an agent of the CIA, but not a corrupt one. This is
hardly relevant. The real “crime” that the PLA commited was to eliminate
religious theocratic rule and economic power, something our friend the
Dalai Lama has not forgiven them for to this day.

The Chinese maintain that Tibet has not been
independent for 700+ years, which is almost accurate. In fact, Tibet has
not been independent for 1300 years, since before being ruled by the
Mongols. The first Chinese revolution of the twentieth century, taking
place in 1911, left much of China in disarray. According to the Dalai
Lama’s exiles, Tibet was “free” from 1912 to 1951. Possibly he has a
de-facto argument, but then so would any province in China not directly
under Chiang Kai-shek’s thumb during this period. No country ever
extended diplomatic recognition to Tibet. Prior to the defeat of Britain
in attempting to maintain India as a colony, Britain tried to push Tibet
(briefly) as a “lost” part of India. An unsuccessful attempt at drawing
up British passports for Tibetans was completely abandoned when it
became futile to try and hold on to India. With the destruction of the
greater portion of the British empire, so the death of “greater India”
in Tibet. No other attempts of splitting or recognizing Tibet as
seperate from China would occur until the rise to prominence of the
Dalai Lama as part of the Cold War. All this encompasses Tibet’s 1300
years of legal (or at least recognised) incorporation into the Mongol or
Chinese empires, far longer than Northern Ireland in Britain, Quebec or
First Nations in Canada or Texas, Hawaii, California not to forget
Puerto Rico in the United States.

All of this is not to discount that Tibet has very
clearly constituted a seperate nation. There are many dozen distinct
nations in China alone. From Hawaii and Mexico to India, to Peru all of
these indigenous nations are just the tip of the iceberg
internationally. Many, many groups that most North Americans have never
heard of constitute legitimate nations. Most have never been independent
states. On this note, Texas has been (briefly) an independent, sovereign
state. There is also a “Republic Of Texas” movement that has been
involved in exchanges of gunfire with cops. No one is duty bound to
support a sovereigntist movement by mere virtue of its existence. Quite
often, the bed-fellows that one could end up with are clearly worse than
the current state of affairs.

With all the media hype around this issue of “Free
Tibet”, it is clear that the rulers of the western world support the
return of the Dalai Lama to his former throne. In contrast to their
callous silence on the Kurdistani, Native American and East Timorese
genocides, to name but only three of a current age, why are they so
concerned about Tibet? The current Chinese government is an enigma to
western policy makers. On the one hand it claims to be “communist”, on
the other it allows massive inflights of foreign capital to over-exploit
her workforce. China maintains nuclear capabilities, yet she has sold
off guaranteed jobs, education and “the Iron Rice Bowl”. In the final
analysis however, what people define China as is just a label. Western
speculators have been wasting no time in recognising the “good and bad”
aspects of modern China, to their view. At the final analysis to
Washington, The Chinese can not be forgiven for their independence.
While massively preffered by the West than the old Mao years, China
still sets her own interest rates, foreign policy and laws- all while
running a state that has a large portion still nationalised. This is the
real “crime” that China commits today, as Noriega’s Panama, Saddam
Hussein’s Iraq and Qaddafi’s Libya have made quite clear. Bill Clinton
and the Pentagon will support the Dalai Lama as long as possible.

The economic reasons are not as clear in Tibet as they
are in Iraq. Tibet has few resources worth much, and not enough to be
noticable to any Imperialist economy, or even the Chinese, who as
mentioned spend more money on than they receive from Tibet. Ripping out a
chunk of China would weaken her internally and militarily, however. The
“Roof of the World” is very difficult to access clandestinely from
either India or Nepal. But a China without the Tibet region is very
accessible with tanks, aircraft, etc…, and the Dalai Lama is not
likely to be very resistant to using Tibet for American Foreign policy,
as he has been doing precisely that since 1959. China, since 1949, has
been under not one countries’ dictates and the “Government in Exile” is
already as such, dependent on Western Europe and the United States.

Since the 1959 riots, hundreds of schools have been
built to supplement the previously existing 2. For the fist time in
Tibetan history now, literacy is more common than uncommon. The life
expectancy was 35, now it is 69 years of age. Poor peasants, serf slaves
and outright slaves have all been distributed land for each and all (In
1960 some tens of thousands of newly emancipated slaves were invited to
a bonfire where all the old property deeds were burned. The Communists
hosted the event, but they were not the prime participants). Womens
rights at least entered the 20th century, which is bad enough. The most
important feature of the ’59 “chasing out” is the achievement for
Tibetans of what most constitutions cherish, the legal seperation of
church and state. No one in North America would get very far calling for
a fundamentalist Catholic state, although there are many like Pat
Robertson and John Hagee who try hard to establish one.

The Chinese experiment called “The Great Proletarian
Cultural Revolution” of the sixties and seventies is very divisive, even
on the left alone. Some refer to it as “power politics and Cult Of The
Personality gone mad” and others call it the “Greatest advance of
democracy in history”. Regardless of your personal take on all that,
what happened in Tibet at the time was the worst of Chinese occupation,
to be sure. Outside Chinese smashed cultural relics, destroyed Temples
and denounced much of what was historically linked with Tibet. Today, it
is a different story. Billions of Yuan have been poured into restoring
and rebuilding the temples of Tibet. Religious schools for monks have
been opened up, but slaves and privilege have not been restored.

The Dalai Lama, and all movements associated with him
and his “facts” can not be seen as a reliable source on Tibet today, for
he has not been to Tibet in nearly Forty years. His motives behind his
“facts” are clear by virtue of their inconsistency. In the early
Sixties, he claimed that Tibet had a population of 2 million. Then,
overnight, he was claiming twelve million. Then it was 3, then 6….

The number of residents is not the only number that
has fluctuated according to whatever is selling at the time. To start
cries of “genocide” the Dalai Lama stated “3 million deaths in Tibet”.
When it finally became apparent that Tibet had less than 1.5 million
people in ’59, the cry became “1.3 million deaths”. We need ask: Did
each Tibetan woman of child bearing age give birth to over 20 kids?
Unlikely, but that is the only way to account for this death toll, when
today’s ethnic Tibetan population is 2.2 million.

The argument often used with me is that the Dalai Lama
is not the “Free Tibet” movement. When this becomes true, the “facts”
the movement promotes will not be exactly those of the “Government In
Exile”. At this point, a more honest but not fanatical and
propagandistic look into abuses of Tibetans can occur. But for now,
heart tugging, apolitical movies, some written by SS members, will be
more important than the truth of Tibetan history. Probably into the
foreseeable future.

The Tibet of today is opened up for tourism. In fact the
Chinese government is encouraging such, putting out several periodicals
explaining their (biased, to be sure) version of events. In Tibet, you
will see monks, lots of Chinese government personnel, and uncomfortable
residents, to be sure. You will not see people carted off for speaking
to you, and ethnic Tibetans are the over-whelming majority. This reality
will negate the claims that Tibet is being assimilated to change the
make up of society. It would be right in front of your eyes.
As important as what you see, will be what you don’t. No slaves being
whipped in public, no women being sold on a market. No one being forced
to sell land “to Him”.

Tibet is a very economically backward region, with all
the trappings of the third world very close to reality every day. That
reality gets closer every time the Dalai Lama gets more press in his
attempts to return to the throne. Chinas’ “reform and opening up drive”
are reaching the rural areas last. Thus, Tibet may have a precarious
future under the current CPC, but not so its’ present. As already
mentioned, Tibet is actually a loss-leader economically as more money is
coming from the central government into Tibet than from Tibet outwards.
Schools, electricity plants and the like come from the CPC-public
treasury. Never in history have any imperialist countries ever executed
such a relationship. If the Dalai Lama has his way, Tibet would be
merely tourist based, and killing rich foreigners for luck would
probably become legend again. What little resources Tibet has would be
sold to the highest bidder and mercilessly exploited. Former Serf
families would lose their land to the magic of the “market”. To preserve
(culturally) Tibet, the only answers are: Pressure China to allow more
autonomy for the Tibetan region, while simultaneously convincing the
Dalai Lama to accept the CPC offer as spiritual but not political head
of Tibet (however it must be noted that we must first determine if
Tibetans do, in fact, want this. There is currently no realistic way of
finding out; we only hear “yes” or “No” ). Try to get Tibet to bypass
the “reforms” as much as possible, to continue the development of the
Tibetan Autonomous Region on a healthy scale. Make it obvious what the
“Government In Exile” is really being motivated by, and who sponsors
them to seperate. This may not be as emotionally comforting as picking a
“righteous side”, but it has a real chance of helping Tibet, Tibetans
and their culture far more than spreading the lies of an American
backed, deposed Monarch.

Author: Macdonald Stainsby

News Service: The A-Infos-en 24Hr News Service

URL: http://archive.foodnotbombs.ca