China's Invasion of Tibet Masquerades as “Liberation”

23 May 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the so called  17-point Agreement between the People's Republic of China and Tibet. This controversial document was forced on the unwilling Tibetans with an ultimatum that Tibet would be invaded by military force.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama made utmost efforts to uphold the agreement despite the fact that Tibetans were coerced to sign it. But the Chinese government violated it by using brute force to bring about systematic annihilation of every vestige of Tibet and Tibetan people's identity. The unprecedented National Uprising of Tibetans against the Chinese government's repression in 1959 was the last straw which led to the massacre of tens of thousands of Tibetans and the exile of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

After coming into exile in India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama formally repudiated the agreement on 18 April 1959.

In his book “Tibet and Its History”, Hugh Richardson, who spent a total of nine years in Tibet as Britain’s last and independent India’s first representative, succinctly wrote: “The long, tendentious manifesto, masquerading as the preamble to the agreement, in which the Chinese took the opportunity of falsifying history and justifying the use of force, cannot conceal that Tibet had lately been a separate entity.”

Hugh Richardson said the Chinese government made “propaganda about liberating Tibetan serfs from oppressive landlords and redistribution of land” before and during the invasion of Tibet.

In fact, it was the Chinese government which thwarted His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama from introducing far-reaching administrative and land reforms. He proposed that all large estate holdings of monasteries and individuals be acquired by the state for distribution amongst peasants. He created a special reform committee which reduced land taxes on peasants.

China’s propaganda on bringing development to Tibet was exposed by the then Communist Party Secretary, Hu Yaobang. After witnessing the extent of poverty in Central Tibet in 1980, he stated that the living standard should be brought up to the pre-1959 level.

The spontaneous peaceful protests which shook all the three Regions of  Tibet in late 1980s and 2008 reinforce the deep-seated resentment of Tibetans living inside Tibet against decades of misrule by China.

On the contrary, China continues to boast about the development in Tibet and happy life of Tibetans. Based on the reports of the ongoing violations of Human Rights inside Tibet and in particular at the Ngaba Kirti Monastery, China must allow the international media and fact finding missions to Tibet.

Sadly, China uses the anniversary to showcase its achievements in Tibet to justify its continued occupation of Tibet.

With whatever fanfare China commemorates this infamous agreement, the glaring fact is that the struggle of the Tibetan people to secure a better future for themselves has intensified over these sixty years. The 60th anniversary celebration of the agreement will not whitewash the atrocities committed on the Tibetan people by the occupying power.

Sixty years after the so-called peaceful liberation of Tibet, Tibetans still risk their lives by crossing the highest mountains in the world to escape to freedom. This clearly illustrates that for the Tibetan people the issue of Tibet is not over. Their struggle to preserve Tibet's religion, culture, language and environment, and to live and work in dignity and freedom in their own homeland will intensify.

On behalf of 2nd Tibetan National General Meeting 2011
Dated : 23rd May, 2011
Place : Dharamsala

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