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Letters by Dalai Lama reveals truth of 'peaceful uprising'
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When the Dalai Lama on Tuesday lambasted the Chinese government over its policy in Tibet and labeled, as usual, the March 10 failed armed rebellion in 1959 as "a peaceful uprising," letters he wrote publicized 50 years ago may help people gain insight into the event.

On Tuesday, in India's northern town of Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama said the Chinese government's "desperate developments left the Tibetan people with no alternative but to launch a peaceful uprising."

But according to three signed letters made public by the Chinese government on March 29, 1959, the Dalai Lama's attitude towards the rebellion was clear then: he was against it and had vowed to quiet the disturbance.

The three letters were verified by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru after a meeting with the Dalai Lama on April 24, 1959, according to previous reports of the Press Trust of India (PTI) and Agence France Press (AFP).

According to documents released by the Chinese government March 2, on February 7, 1959, the Dalai Lama asked officers of the Tibet Military Area Command to arrange a performance for him.

Based on the witness account made by Thubten Dampa, an official with the Tibetan local government and participant of the rebellion, the Dalai Lama had admitted to the rebels on March 14 that he had personally requested the performance from the military and did not go through a third person.

On March 9, The Dalai Lama told Galoins (cabinet ministers) that they could go directly to the performance, slated for March 10 at the Tibet Military Area Command Auditorium, without gathering at his residence at the Norbulingka Palace.

On March 10, the rebels coerced more than 2,000 people to gather at Norbulingka. They also spread rumors such as "the Military Area Command is planning to poison the Dalai Lama," and shouted slogans such as "Independence of Tibet" and "Away with the Hans."

The Dalai Lama's attitude toward the rebellion, which was revealed in his letters, is quite different from the statement that is now being posted on the Web site of "Tibetan government-in-exile" and what he has repeatedly emphasized in his speeches.

From March 10 to March 16 in 1959, the Dalai Lama exchanged three rounds of letters with Tan Guansan, the acting representative of the central government and political commissar of the Tibet Military Area Command.

After the rebellion broke out on March 10, Tan managed to send a letter to the Dalai Lama, expressing his understanding of the Dalai Lama's situation.

The next day, in his first reply to Tan, the Dalai Lama wrote of the rebellion, "reactionary, evil elements are carrying out activities endangering me on the pretext of ensuring my safety. I am taking steps to calm things down."

Having been informed that the rebels were making reckless military provocations since March 10, The Dalai Lama wrote, in his second letter on March 12, "the unlawful activities of the reactionary clique cause me endless worry and sorrow..."

He wrote, in the same letter, "as to the incidents of yesterday and the day before, which were brought about on the pretext of ensuring my safety and have seriously estranged relations between the Central People's Government and the local government, I am making every possible effort to deal with them."

However, the official Web site of the "Tibetan government-in-exile," presents a different version of "chronology of events." It stated that "tens of thousands of Tibetans gathered in front of Norbulingka Palace, Lhasa to prevent His Holiness from going to a performance at the Chinese Army Camp in Lhasa. Tibetan People's Uprising begins in Lhasa," according to the Web site. The statement contradicts the letters written to Tan, removing words such as "unlawful" or "reactionary clique."

In his March 16 letter to Tan, the Dalai Lama said that he had "educated" and "severely criticized" officials of the local Tibet government and was dividing separatist officials from those who did not want to be involved in the rebellion.

He also said he might go to the Military Area Command a few days later. However, on the evening of March 17, the Dalai Lama, together with his associates, fled from Lhasa. His flight was solid evidence that his letters were intended to mislead.

In his autobiography, the Dalai Lama admitted that his letters to Tan aimed at gaining some time for his escape and was his delaying strategy.

The mismatch of the Dalai Lama's words and deeds, though led to his successful flight, seems to prove that what he had done were against the commandments followed by Tibetan Buddhists.

Though the commandments followed by Tibetan Buddhists vary, they are all based on the "four precepts": no killing, stealing, adultery, or lying.

The Gelugpa School, or the yellow sect, of Tibetan Buddhism, headed by the Dalai Lama, is better known for its strict observance of these commandments.

(Xinhua  News Agency March 14, 2009)

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