The Dalai Lama with the Tibetan Guerrillas
Dalai Lama CIA
Partnership with the CIA
Of all the lies that surround the Dalai Lama, surely the greatest is that he is a champion of non-violence. This aspect of the image that he likes to portray of himself and with which he has mesmerised the media and much of the world is actually just another part of the myth.
The truth of the matter is that from the mid-1950s through to the mid-1970s there was an active and violent Tibetan resistance movement that was funded by the CIA.
The CIA Tibetan Activity consists of political action, propaganda, and paramilitary activity [...] The cost of the Tibetan Program for FY 1964 can be summarized in approximate figures as follows:
a. Support of 2100 Tibetan guerrillas based in Nepal--$ 500,000
b. Subsidy to the Dalai Lama--$ 180,000
c. [1 line of source text not declassified] (equipment, transportation, installation, and operator training costs)--$ 225,000
d. Expenses of covert training site in Colorado--$ 400,000
e. Tibet Houses in New York, Geneva, and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] ( 1/2 year )--$ 75,000
f. Black air transportation of Tibetan trainees from Colorado to India--$ 185,000
g. Miscellaneous (operating expenses of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] equipment and supplies to reconnaissance teams, caching program, air resupply--not overflights, preparation stages for agent network in Tibet, agent salaries, etc.)--$ 125,000
h. Educational program for 20 selected junior Tibetan officers-- $ 45,000
Document 337, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964 - 1968, Volume xxx, China
Declassified State Department Document
Please inform the world about the suffering of the Tibetan people. To make us free from the misery of the Chinese Communist operations [you] must help us as soon as possible and send us weapons for 30,000 men by airplane.’
CIA Documents obtained under Freedom of Information Act
Message radioed from the Dalai Lama's travelling party to the CIA
This fantastic escape and its major significance have been buried in the lore of the CIA as one of those successes that are not talked about. The Dalai Lama would have never been saved without the CIA.
BBC TV Documentary
The Tibetan people are well known for being devoutly religious and peace loving. What is less known is that thousands of Tibetans took up arms against the invading forces of Communist China and waged a bitter and bloody guerrilla war. From the mid-1950s until 1969 they were aided in their efforts by an unlikely ally, the CIA. This project, code-named ST CIRCUS, was one of the CIA's longest running covert operations.
The Chicago Tribune
The Americans came, he said, in a big turboprop plane, a gleaming machine that he and other awed Tibetans called a “sky ship”. They wore sunglasses and baggy flight suits. They packed shiny automatic weapons on their hips. And speaking through an interpreter, they asked Nawang if he wanted to kill Chinese.
“I told them I would be very happy to kill many Chinese,” recalled the 63-year-old rug merchant, one of thousands of exiled Tibetans living in this picturesque Himalayan capital. “I was very young and strong then. Very patriotic. I told them I would even be a suicide bomber.”
The strangers, Air Force pilots working with the CIA, must have liked what they heard because on that hot day back in 1963, at a secret air base in India, they took Nawang and 40 other Tibetan recruits on the first airplane ride of their lives. It was a journey that would stretch halfway around the world and into one of the murkiest chapters of the CIA’s long history of covert activity in Asia: a secret war in Tibet.
The LA Times
For much of the 1960s, the CIA provided the Tibetan exile movement with $1.7 million a year for operations against China, including an annual subsidy of $180,000 for the Dalai Lama, according to newly released U.S. intelligence documents.
The money for the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama was part of the CIA’s worldwide effort during the height of the Cold War to undermine Communist governments, particularly in the Soviet Union and China. In fact, the U.S. government committee that approved the Tibetan operations also authorized the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
The CIA in Tibet
Foreign Relations of the United States, Eisenhower Administration, 1958-1960, Volume XIX
Foreign Relations of the United States, Kennedy Administration, Reference on Tibet, 1960-1963
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976, Volume XVII, ‘Questions pertaining to Tibet’;
Paul Salopek, ‘The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet’, Chicago Tribune, 26 January 1997;
Jim Mann, LA Times, ‘CIA Gave Aid to Tibetan Exiles in ‘60s, Files Show’, Sept 1998;
Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet, (University Press of Kansas, 2002).
John Kenneth Knaus, Orphans of the Cold War, (New York, Public Affairs, 2000)
Jamyang Norbu, Warriors of Tibet, (Dharamsala, Tibetan Information Office, 1986)
Robert McCarthy, Tears of the Lotus, (North Carolina, McFarland, 1997)
Melinda Liu, ‘When Heaven Shed Blood’, Newsweek, 19 April 1999.
Diplomacy and the Dalai Lama, FEER (Far Eastern Economic Review)18 March 1974, 32. Quoted in Tom A. Grunfeld, The Making of Modern Tibet (New York & London: M.E. Sharpe 1996), 151
BBC Documentary, ‘The Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet’, 1998.
Department of State Publication 11342, Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume XVII, ’Questions pertaining to Tibet’.
Melvyn C. Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet: The Calm Before the Storm: 1951 – 1955, (University of California Press, 2007), 35.
‘Re: Dalai Lama and officials arrived safely in India’ 2 April 1959, Declassified CIA Documents.
Thomas Laird, Into Tibet: The CIA’s First Atomic Spy and his Secret Expedition to Lhasa, (Grove/Atlantic Press, 2002).
History of Chushigangdruk: Establishment 22, Official Website of Chushi Gangdruk.
Michael Peissel, The Cavaliers of Kham, the Secret War in Tibet, p216 (London: Heinemann 1972 & Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1973)
A. Tom Grunfeld, The Making of Modern Tibet (New York & London: M.E. Sharpe 1996), 163
- Why we are exposing the Dalai Lama
- The Issue of Religious Intolerance
- An Accessory to War and Violence
- The Illusion of Democracy
- Partnership with the CIA
- The Union of Religion and Politics
- The Nazi Connections
- Where has all the Money Gone?
- How Superstition Shaped History
- What has been Achieved for Tibet?
- Collaboration with Communism
- The Politics of Reincarnation
- Torture and Execution Ordered by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama
- Prisoners of the Potala: The Sixth to Twelfth Dalai Lamas
- Wars and Murders ordered by the Fifth Dalai Lama
- The Pure Dharma of the Early Dalai Lamas
The Western Shugden Society has based its research on the works of respected and independent scholars, investigative journalists and on original source material to demonstrate its position. Some of this material is freely available on the internet. Wherever possible we have provided links to the original documents or means to access them. We invite you to investigate them for yourself.
The CIA in Tibet