A Great Deception

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Dalai Lama Wikileaks Statistics

The Dalai Lama Wikileaks - Curious Statistics

The recent release of US State Department cables by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.org has revealed some curious statistics in relation to the Tibetans in exile.

Clearly, Tibet and the Dalai Lama are at the centre of a propaganda war between the United States and Communist China. In virtually all western media, the Tibetans are portrayed like the Ewoks from Star Wars - as cute, cuddly, harmless and deeply spiritual - while the Chinese are demonized - sinophobic charicatures like Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon spring to Mind. This media distortion has been carefully orchestrated with the US's vested interests in mind. A closer analysis of the Wikileaks cables reveals statistics that challenge this popular myth.

In one cable  it reveals that far from being pacifists, most of the Tibetans serve in the military. The cables states:

'Most Tibetan men in northeastern India join the SFF [Special Frontier Force]. In Gangtok, [...] the majority of men work for the SFF; and in Ravangla, 90% of the Tibetan families have at least one family member serving.'

That so many Tibetans serve in the military may come as a shock to some readers, and they may perhaps think this must be a recent development, quite unusual for the Tibetans. Such a view would only demonstrate how deeply effective the Dalai Lama's efforts to rewrite Tibetan history have been. In his illuminating article 'Vegetarian between Meals: The Dalai Lama, War, and Violence'Professor Barry Sautman presents facts that are in stark contrast with the picture the Dalai Lama likes to paint. Professor Sautman provides references for every statement he makes, his sources are listed below.

'The Dalai Lama has said “the people of Tibet are, by their nature, honest, gentle and kind,” that “Tibetan culture is a compassionate and non-violent culture” and “under the kings and Dalai Lamas . . . peace and happiness prevailed in Tibet.”20 He has also stated that “Tibetan culture [is] based on peaceful relations,”21 and that “before 1950, Tibet was completely a land of peace.”22

Tibetans, including monks, have however long borne arms against outsiders and each other in wars between rulers or Buddhist sects.31 The “Great Fifth” Dalai Lama “ferociously annihilated enemies and their families.”32 Tibetan armies warred in Ladakh in 1679–84 and in Bhutan many times in the eighteenth century, against Zunghar Mongols in 1720, Nepal from 1788 to 1792 and 1854 to 1858, Ladakh in 1842, and Britain in 1904.33 From the late eighteenth century, the ancien régime had a standing army,34 and in the early twentieth century, the “Great Thirteenth” had a ministry of war oversee his British-trained army. He advised Tibetans that, “where [peaceful means] are not appropriate, [they should] not hesitate to resort to more forceful means.”35 The present Dalai Lama has noted that the Thirteenth did “raise an army, train it as best as possible. Just between us, this isn’t strictly practicing nonviolence.”36 During World War I, the Thirteenth offered his British patrons one thousand troops,37 and in 1920 he dispatched his army to help the murderously racist Russian baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg assault Mongolia’s capital.38

In Eastern Tibet, in the first half of the twentieth century, Lhasa’s army fought Tibetans led by eastern chieftains and both fought non-Tibetan warlord armies.39 “People from Kham fought around 400–500 major battles both against the Chinese and the Lhasa government, between 1911 and 1935. These armed guerrilla forces increasingly occupied the central Tibetan military. The fighting intensified after the death of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama in 1933 and the eastern Tibetans, moreover, sought a separate state, independent from any Han and central Tibetan control.”40 Violent conflicts occurred in Tibet right up to the old regime’s fall.41 Some 10 to 15 percent of monks at three large Lhasa monasteries were “fighting monks” (dobdob) who had access to guns; more generally “lamas had their own courts and prisons, and often organized their own militias and possessed thousands of guns and horses.”42 In a 1947 civil war, thousands of monks fought with artillery and guns and as many as three hundred died.43

To illustrate just how militarized the Tibetan people were, Professor Sautman provides us with a statistical comparison to the present United States military:

In 1950 the Tibetan army had twelve thousand troops for a region of 1.2 million people.44 The United States, with 761 bases abroad, has only half that proportion of its people under arms.45

The carefully crafted image of the Dalai Lama as a benign spiritual leader, and of Tibet as a Shangri-la, is a weapon in the CIA's propaganda war. The Dalai Lama has knowingly colluded with the myth-building about himself and Tibet. A more realistic assessment of the present Dalai Lama, and the Dalai Lamas through history can be found in 'A Great Deception'.


Professor Sautman's sources:

20. Dalai Lama, “Guidelines for Future Tibet’s Polity and Basic Features of Its Constitution” (Dharamsala: Central Tibetan Administration, 1992); Central Tibetan Administration, “World Needs Tibet’s Compassionate and Non-violent Culture: His Holiness,” World Tibet Network News, November 24, 2008. See also “Dalai Lama Calls on Beijing to Change,” Voice of America, August 9, 2009 (head of Dalai Lama Foundation states “Tibetans are
traditionally peaceful and gentle”).
21. Pico Iyer, “Over Tea with the Dalai Lama: An Interview with the Dalai Lama”

31. William Coleman, “The Uprising at Batang: Khams and Its Significance in Chinese and Tibetan History,” and Wim Van Spengen, “Frontier History of Southern Khams: Banditry and War in the Multi-ethnic Fringe Lands of Chatring, Mili, and Gyethang, 1890–1940,” in Khams pa Histories: Visions of People, Place, and Authority, ed. Lawrence Epstein (Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill, 2002), 31–55, 7–29.
32. Elliot Sperling, “ ‘Orientalism’ and Aspects of Violence in the Tibetan Tradition,” in Imagining Tibet: Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies, ed. Tierry Dodin and Heinz Rather (Boston: Wisdom, 2001), 318–19. See also Tsepon Shakabpa, Tibet: A Political History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1967), 113; Melvyn Goldstein, A History of Tibet, 1913–1951: The Demise of the Lamaist State (Berkeley: University of California, 1989), 42–43, 513–15; Lydia Arans, “Inventing Tibet,” Commentary 127:1 (2009): 38–41. The Fifth Dalai Lama also forced Buddhists of other schools to “convert” to the Gelugpa school; John Powers, History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles versus the People’s Republic of China (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2007), 146.
33. Zahiruddin Ahmad, “New Light on the Tibet-Ladakh-Mogul War of 1679–1684,” East and West 18 (1968): 340–61; Patrick French, Tibet, Tibet (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2003), 98; David Kopel, “Self-Defense in Asian Religion,” Liberty Law Review 2:1 (2007): 79–164; Donald Lopez, “Seven Things You Didn’t Know about Tibet,” www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493105.html.
34. Michael Fredholm, “The Impact of Manchu Institutions on Tibetan Military Reform,” paper presented at Sixth Nordic Tibet Conference, May 5–6, 2007, pp1.it.secure.su.se/content/1/c6/04/25/81/Fredholm.pdf.
35. Quoted in John Billington, “It’s Time for Tibetans to Ignore the Dalai Lama’s Policy of Nonviolence,” Independent (London), October 12, 1997.
36. Dalai Lama, Violence and Compassion: Dialogues on Life Today (New York: Random House, 2001).
37. Sanderson Beck, Tibet, Nepal, and Ceylon, 1800–1950 (Goleta, CA: World Peace Communications, 2007), reproduced at www.san.beck.org/20–7–TibetNepalCeylon1800–1950.html.
38. James Palmer, The Bloody White Baron (London: Faber, 2007).
39. Carole McGranahan, “Empire and the Status of Tibet: British, Chinese, and Tibetan Negotiations, 1913–1934,” in The History of Tibet, ed. Alex McKay, vol. 3 (London: Routledge Curzon, 2003), 267–95; James Leibold, Reconfiguring Chinese Nationalism: How the Qing Frontier and Its Indigenes Became Chinese (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 71–72.
40. Roemer, Tibetan Government-in-Exile, 27.
41. Charles Bell, Tibet: Past and Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1927), 191–93; Zahiruddin Ahmad, Sino-Tibetan Relations in the Seventeenth Century (Rome: Instituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, 1970), 101.
42. Lin Hsiao-ting, “When Christianity and Lamaism Met: The Changing Fortunes of Early Western Missionaries in Tibet,” Pacific Rim Report, no. 36 (December 2004), www.pacificrim.usfca.edu/research/pacrimreport/pacrimreport36.html.
43. Goldstein, A History of Tibet, 513; Roemer, Tibetan Government-in-Exile, 12; Thomas Laird, The Story of Tibet: Conversations with the Dalai Lama (Berkeley, CA: Grove, 2007), 286. See also Barnett, “Essay,” 192 (“There were several insurgencies against the previous Dalai Lama or his regents this century led by monks”). Torture and death-inducing punishment was common, as U.S. Army officers observed in Tibet in 1942 and 1943. See Rosemary Jones Tung, A Portrait of Lost Tibet (Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion, 1987).
44. Robert Ford, “Robert Ford’s Report” (Dharamsala: Tibetan Government in Exile, 1994), www.tibet.com/status/ford.html. Tibetan rulers wanted to raise one hundred thousand troops; Tsering Shakya, Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet since 1947 (London: Pimilico, 1999), 13.
45. Chalmers Johnson, Sorrows of Empire (New York: Metropolitan, 2004).

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