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Tibetologists: Dalai Lama's anniversary speech distorts facts
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The 14th Dalai Lama has distorted facts in his public remarks this month, say Chinese tibetologists.

In his speech on the March 10 anniversary of the "uprising" five decades ago, the Dalai Lama said today's Tibetans "literally experienced hell on earth", and only the old Tibet was "a free Tibet".

Tibetologists said Thursday his remarks were neither in accord with the facts nor with the feelings of the Chinese people, including Tibetans.


Although some people claimed ordinary Tibetan people were well fed before 1959, American tibetologist A. Tom Grunfeld said after he conducted a 1940 survey in eastern Tibet that "there is no evidence to support the picture of Tibet as a Utopian Shangrila".

The survey found 38 percent of Tibetan families never had tea to drink, 51 percent could not afford butter and 75 percent sometimes had to eat weeds boiled with ox bones and oats or bean flour.

In contrast, in 1959, the Dalai Lama alone owned 160,000 liang (8,000 kilograms) of gold, 95 million liang of silver, over 20,000items of jewelry and jade, and more than 10,000 pieces of silk and satin fabric and rare fur clothing, while his family possessed 27 manors, 30 pastures and more than 6,000 serfs, according to Zhang Yun, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Center.

"Hell on earth" was perfectly appropriate for the old Tibet, said Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibet regional government.

In 1959, the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters and the Chinese government launched democratic reform to end the feudal serfdom system and liberate serfs.

Qiangba, who was born to an impoverished Tibetan family 62 years ago, said, "The old Tibet, which was under the control of the Dalai Lama, was a feudal serfdom darker and more undeveloped than medieval Europe."

Since the democratic reform 50 years ago, Tibet has undergone significant changes, and its GDP has grown from 174 million yuan (25.6 million U.S. dollars) in 1959 to 39.59 billion yuan last year, said Qiangba.


In his speech on March 10, the Dalai Lama has depicted his failed rebellion in 1959 as "the Tibetan people's peaceful uprising against Communist China's repression in Tibet".

Despite repeated denials by the Dalai Lama, three letters penned by him in 1959 indicate otherwise.

The Dalai Lama penned the letters to the commander of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) stationed in Tibet on March 11, 12 and 16.

In his letters, the Dalai Lama wrote, "Reactionary, evil elements are carrying out activities endangering me under the pretext of ensuring my safety. I am taking measures to calm things down.

"The unlawful activities of the reactionary clique cause me endless worry and sorrow.... As to the incidents, which were brought about under 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," he wrote.

Fifty years later, the Dalai Lama said those described by him as "evil elements" and a "reactionary clique" launched the "uprising" because they were left with no alternative, said Lhagba Puncog, secretary-general of China Tibetology Research Center.

Lhagba Puncog said the essential cause of the rebellion was because the upper ruling class of the Dalai Lama realized that the democratic reform launched in 1959 would lead to the end of feudal serfdom and their ruling status.


The Dalai Lama said in his speech on March 10 that accepting "Tibet as having been a part of China since ancient times is not only inaccurate, but also unreasonable".

Tibetologists say historical materials showed that the Chinese central authorities have exerted undisputable and effective administration over Tibet since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

By denying China's sovereignty over Tibet, the Dalai Lama is seeking a legal basis for his activities of "Tibet independence", "semi-independence" and "independence in a disguised form", said Zhang Yun, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Center.


On March 10, the Dalai Lama insisted he had never said Chinese troops and non-Tibetans should be expelled from Tibet.

Zhou Yuan, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Center, said such demands were proposed by the Dalai Lama two decades ago in his "five-point peace plan" proposed during a visit to the United States in 1987 and his "seven-point new proposals" published in Strasbourg, France, in 1988.

In his "five-point peace plan", the Dalai Lama demanded a "transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace", and said, "The establishment of a peace zone in Tibet would require withdrawal of Chinese troops and military installations...only a withdrawal of Chinese troops could start a genuine process of reconciliation."

He said, "For the Tibetans to survive as a people, it is imperative that the population transfer is stopped and Chinese settlers return to China."

Here, by saying "Chinese," he meant "the people of Han ethnic group", Zhou said.

Similar demands were again mentioned in the Dalai Lama's "seven-point new proposals" in 1988.

Samdhong, the "prime minister" of the "Tibetan government-in-exile," told Tibetans to repeat their demands that troops cannot be stationed in Tibet last year, saying it was a "core issue".

"The withdrawal of troops and the people of Han ethnic group are the political doctrines and basic contents of the Dalai Lama's 'middle way' approach," Zhou said.


On March 10, the Dalai Lama reiterated that "the religion, culture, language and identity...are nearing extinction".

In old Tibet, access to education was restricted to members of the aristocracy and monasteries, the broad masses of laboring people were denied any opportunity for education, said An Caidan, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Center.

Modern Tibet was the first place in China to enjoy free compulsory education in both urban and rural areas, he said.

From kindergarten to higher education, from vocational to special education, each educational stage had Tibetan language teaching materials, he said.

The central government had placed Tibetan Buddhism under effective protection as part of traditional Tibetan culture, he said. Since the 1980s, more than 700 million yuan has been appropriated from the central and local revenues for repairing religious sites.

(Xinhua News Agency March 26, 2009)

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