Sunday 29 November 2009

Breaking the Deadlock

This report details the findings of four Parliamentarians who visited the Tibet Autonomous Region in September 2009. They are:
Lord Steel of Aikwood
Lord Alton of Liverpool
Derek Wyatt MP
James Gray MP

The Report can be downloaded from FINAL_PDF_Tibet_Report.pdf

The Finding of the report are summarized as

5.11 The delegation condemns attacks of any kind, by any party or individual. All Tibetans and Chinese hope for a peaceful future for Tibet; violence sows the seeds of distrust and hatred.

5.12 The delegation expresses profound concern regarding the alleged use of torture to obtain confessions from monks during the aftermath of March 2008. If/where torture or coercion is found to have been used, those cases should be retried or acquitted and due redress be given.

5.13 The delegation notes with great distress reports of the disappearance of 1,200 monks, following the unrest in March 2008. Where individuals have been imprisoned, their relatives should be informed; where individuals have been relocated, they should be returned.

A Short History of Tibet

Ancient History:

Tibet is an ancient country located between India and China in the Great Himalayan mountains. Known as the “Roof of the world” or the “Land of Snows”, it is a place of great natural beauty and environmental significance for the world.

During Tibet's ancient history it existed as a single independent country of Tibet. Tibet was unified as a single country under King Songtsan Gampo in the 7th century. The Tibetan empire extended into large parts of China and Central Asia.

Buddhism was established as the religion in Tibet assimilating the local Bon traditions. Tibetan language is spoken in Tibet.

The lineage of the Dalai Lamas became the spiritual and political leaders in Tibet. They are believed to the recognised reincarnations of the Buddha of Compassion.

In 821 / 822 CE, Tibet and China signed a peace treaty. A bilingual account of the treaty including the details of the borders between the two countries are inscribed on a stone pillar which stands outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa.

History since 1900:

1904 - British military expedition led by Colonel Francis Younghusband enters Lhasa and UK trade mission established under the Lhasa treaty agreed with the Tibetan government.

1911 - the UK government recognises Tibet as de facto independent and official communications are conducted directly with the Tibetan government.

1937 - Two year old Lhamo Thondup is recognised as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama and is named Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Tenzin Gyatso – the current 14th Dalai Lama who now lives in exile in India. He begins his education as a Buddhist monk.

1948 – The United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights was set out and proclaims “Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.

1949 – The People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China cross the Tibetan border and begin the process of the 'liberation' of Tibet.

1950 – In October, over 40,000 Chinese troops attack the capital of the Tibetan region of Chamdo. The 8,000 strong Tibetan army are quickly crushed with over 4000 Tibetans killed. On 17th November an emergency session of the Tibetan National Assembly is convened. The Dalai Lama only at 15 assumes full authority as Head of State.

1951 - Under extreme pressure, a Tibetan delegation in Beijing sign the 17 point agreement. In return for pledging to guarantee Tibet's autonomy and respect the Buddhist religion and culture of Tibet, this gives China control over Tibet's external affairs and allows Chinese military occupation. The agreement is NOT recognised by the Tibetan government. Over 20,000 troops enter Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

1954 - The young Dalai Lama travels to Beijing to engage in peace talks with Mao Tse-tung and other Chinese leaders. His efforts are thwarted by Beijing's unflinching and ruthless stance.

10th March 1959 - With fears for the Dalai Lama's life, Lhasa erupts into protest calling on China to leave Tibet. The uprising is brutally crushed by the occupying Chinese army and over the next six months around 87,000 Tibetans are killed as a result of the unrest.

12th March 1959 - Tibetan Women's Association formed in Lhasa to challenge the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Over 15,000 women demonstrate against Chinese occupation. Protesting peacefully outside the Potala Palace many of these women suffered brutally at the hands of the Chinese troops. They were arrested, imprisoned and tortured without trial. Most of those imprisoned did not survive.

17th March 1959 – The Dalai Lama disguised as a soldier leaves Lhasa to escape to India over the Himalayan mountains. En-route to India, he declared the new administration installed in Lhasa was totally controlled by the Chinese and not recognised by the people of Tibet. Upon arrival in India, the Dalai Lama re-established the Tibetan government in exile. In the ensuing months over 80,000 Tibetans cross the Himalayas to India.

1959 – The Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group was formed by Hugh Richardson who was the British representative in Lhasa in the 30's and 40's along with other ex-diplomats and foreign office officials.

1959, 1961, 1965 – Resolutions in support of Tibet are passed at the United Nations calling for respect of the fundamental rights of the Tibetan people and their distinctive cultural and religious life.

Mao's Great Leap Forward (1959 – 1962) led to great famine in Tibet. Approximately 1.2 million Tibetans are estimated to have died since 1950 due to violence, torture, starvation and other causes under the Chinese Rule.

1963 – Tibet is sealed off and foreign visitors are banned. The shut down lasts eight years until 1971. The Dalai Lama approved a democratic constitution for the Tibetan people and began the development of the world's newest democracies.

1965 – Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) is established by the Chinese government.

1966 – The Cultural Revolution reaches Tibet resulting in widespread destruction of thousands of monasteries, with monks and nuns cast out into the land. Many ancient and valuable religious and cultural artefacts were destroyed.

1970's – Ongoing program of large scale relocation of Han Chinese into Tibet.

1987 – At the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in Washington, the Dalai Lama proposes a Five-Point Peace Plan as a first stage towards resolving the conflict in Tibet.

1988 – In an address to the European Parliament in Starsbourg, the Dalai Lama elaborates on the Five Point Peace Plan and puts forward his “Middle Way” approach. This suggests a meaningful autonomy within the People's Republic of China, whereby Tibet would be a self governing democratic political entity founded on the agreement of the people for common good. Protests occur in Tibet which are crushed.

1989 – The Dalai Lama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1993 – Behind the scenes the contact between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government are broken off.

1995 – Six year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is recognised by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. Chinese authorities place the boy under arrest and another six year old boy Gyancain Norbu is nominated as their official Panchen Lama. The recognised Panchen Lama and his family are missing till today and their whereabouts are unknown.

2002 – Communication between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government resumes after a break of nine years with a round of informal discussions in Beijing. Since then there have been five further rounds of talks with no tangible results.

2006 – The Golmud-Lhasa railway link opens bringing mass tourism from mainland China and an added huge influx of Han Chinese migrants further marginalising Tibetans inside Tibet. Mandarin is now the commonly used language in Lhasa.

October 2007 - President George Bush presents the Dalai Lama with top civilian medal in the US, the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Chinese regime steps up its re-education policy where Tibetan monks and nuns are forced to denounce their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Refusal results in years of imprisonment, torture and death in the infamous prisons such as the Drapchi prison.

For example Tibetan woman Ngawang Sangdrol who spent several years being held and tortured at Drapchi prison. After lobbying by individuals, organisations, French, Swiss and American governments, she was released on medical parole from Drapchi prison in October 2002. She has quoted that all political prisoners are tortured and the Chinese authorities adopt a lenient position in terms of the torture towards a prisoner if international attention is mobilised.

The human rights casualties are not possible and very painful to include in a leaflet. Please refer to the Tibet Society or Amnesty website or

March 2008 – In desperation of the increasingly hard line policies of the Chinese authorities, monks demonstrate in Lhasa on the 10th March. Following a severe crackdown by the local Chinese regime, protests and demonstrations by Tibetan people spread throughout the Tibetan Autonomous Region and other traditionally Tibetan areas. Hundreds of Tibetans are killed or injured by the Chinese Government's Police and troops. Thousands more are detained.


Welcome to Bath and District Tibet Support Group's Web page. This group is dedicated to promoting a free Tibet so that Tibetans can return to their homes from exile.

The Bath District Tibet Support Group is a Not for Profit organisation that works for the freedom of the Tibetan people and their right to self determination by:

 We operate in the Bath and District area and show films, present talks, stage events and provide information on the current situation in Tibet.

You can become a member by contacting Us

Response to Mr Gray Published in the Gazette & Hearld Chippenham

It was with interest that I read James Gray’s column last week about his visit to Tibet.

When I think of the Tibetan situation I imagine how I would feel if I were Tibetan. Try this: Image Hitler winning the second world war and occupying Britain. The royal family and Churchill escape to America, which remains neutral, to set up a government in exile. Then the Nazification of Britain is undertaken, all Government buildings except the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham palace are destroyed. All places of worship and libraries are destroyed with the books burned in the street.

All universities are destroyed with Oxford and Cambridge used for target practice by the Luftwaffe. Over the next 20 years eight million people are killed, Museums and art galleries looted and items sold on the international black market. There would be an influx of Germans to run the new government, industry and commerce, the official language would be German and a picture of Hitler would be on every street. Indigenous Britons would have to swear allegiance to the Nazi party every Sunday. Then Hitler dies and his closest subordinates (the equivalent of the gang of four) are blamed for past ‘mistakes’ but the Nazi party remains in power and the nazification of Britain continues with most shops, hotels and offices run by Germans. Britons are marginalized and cannot get jobs. Germany becomes the economic powerhouse of the world. A delegation of American politicians arrives in Britain on a fact finding tour and is shown new housing projects where indigenous English people live. They are well looked after with all their material needs met. The American politicians go away thinking ‘well there are some human rights abuses but most English people are much better off than they were when there was rationing’.

If it’s a choice between material needs and political or religious freedom then freedom wins every time. Would Mr Gray’s conclusions be different without his Chinese minders in Tibet

Richard Moulton and Anne-Marie Willis

Tuesday 13 October 2009

response from MP James Gray 12 Oct 09

12th October 2009

Dear Anne-Marie,

Thank you for you email and for the ten facts about Tibet from the Tibet Society, many of which I recognise and acknowledge as being true, without diminishing the broad thesis of my argument that despite all of that, Tibet is nonetheless better off as part of China than as some kind of small autonomous state.

I suspect this may well be one of those matters on which you and I will not necessarily agree, rather as I would not agree with those who advocate the independence of Scotland or Ireland, or of the Basque country, or of the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka.

I am strongly in favour of the devolution of powers to independent autonomous people, while retaining their status as part of that country or nation. I nonetheless readily accept that these are matters for debate and discussion and on which none of us has the monopoly on correctness.

Kind regards,


Sunday 11 October 2009

Response to James Gray Article

Dear Mr. Gray,

I was surprised that such a supposedly experienced politician as yourself could visit Tibet and come away with a one-sided ‘Chinese’ view. (‘How trip to Tibet changed my mind’, Gaz. & Herald Sept. 24th). The answer is in the statement ‘what we found in Tibet was a….Country transformed into a modern Chinese way of life’! That is what your Chinese minders wanted you to see and what the 5 million Han Chinese (brought in to settle and now outnumber the Tibetans) want to happen. Is it what the Tibetans want and did you ask them?
Good for you in pressing the Chinese hard on ‘reported human rights abuses’, and not blindly accepting some of the ‘pretty crass propaganda which the Chinese hosts’ tried to feed you. But to then conclude that ‘overall, Chinese sovereignty over Tibet is in the best interests of the ordinary people’(...the Tibetans??), is not supported by the evidence:
  • Economic benefits such as those quoted have undoubtedly occurred, but largely to the Chinese.
  • The ‘great lengths’ the Chinese are going to in order ‘to preserve their (Tibetan) heritage and give them religious freedom’ is merely re-building parts of a few monasteries whilst strictly controlling the monks activities, so they can perform for tourists like a group of British MPs. Window dressing which you have swallowed hook, line and sinker!
If, as you say, the Chinese are going to great lengths to give Tibetans their religious freedom, does thinot simply say that they do not have it?

Why have the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of his people fled Tibet to India, and are still doing so but not returning to Tibet, if life there is so marvellous? They would rather have poverty in exile with freedom rather than slavery with questionable economic benefits.

Why has the Panchen Lama, the second senior lama in Tibet, not been heard of since his removal nearly 20 years ago and a Chinese stooge put in his place, if religious freedom is a reality?

It is true that when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet it was a desperately poor feudal country guided by their religion and culture. But since then, a modern and democratic ‘Tibetan government in exile’ has been established and would carry out economic reforms in Tibet, if allowed, with religious, cultural and political freedom, something that the Chinese would never allow.

It is sometimes said that in Britain we don’t value our freedoms enough - sadly you have extended this to Tibet.

George Yates,
Bath District Tibet Support Group

How my trip to Tibet changed my mind. by James Gray MP

Taken from the Gazette & Hearld Sept. 24th (North Wiltshire)
INSPIRED by Brad Pitt's film Seven Years in Tibet and feeling outraged by the murdering Chinese who invaded the mountain kingdom, I jumped at the chance to see things for myself.  The invitation came courtesy of the Parliamentary All Party Group for China and, alongside ex-Liberal leader Lord (David) Steel, cross-bench peer Lord (David) Alton and a Labour MP, I spent last week in Tibet and China. We journeyed by train from Xining in mid-China over the 5,000 metre high mountains to Lhasa, thankfully not needing the oxygen masks which many of the other passengers were gasping into.  While wondering at the sheer engineering skill of it, all of us felt a slight queasiness as to exactly why they had done so? Was this neo-colonialism or militaristic? What we found in Tibet was a former tiny theocratic and feudal country transformed into a modern Chinese way of life.  GDP per head has rocketed, the infrastructure improved, new schools and universities, life expectancy even for the poorest farmers, many of whom have been rehoused, has more than doubled. Of course we felt some sentimental nostalgia for the mountain kingdom of 100 years ago. But there is no doubt about it, the way of life is massively better under China than it could possibly be in an independent nation state Tibet.  We were of course deeply concerned about reported human rights abuses - as we are across China. We pressed the Chinese hard on reports of a large number of monks who had disappeared after last March's riots, of a local official who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the minor offence of communicating with the outside world, and of two people sentenced to death for opposing the Chinese. Similarly we pressed the Chinese hard on the status of the Dalai Llama, and how it might be that he could be allowed to return to Llasa after his 50 years in exile. So we by no means blindly accepted some of the - at times pretty crass - propaganda which our Chinese hosts tried to feed us. But overall, I have to admit that Chinese sovereignty over Tibet is very much in the best interests of the ordinary people of that lovely country, and the Chinese are going to great lengths to preserve their heritage and give them religious freedom. So I will not in the future be flirting with Bradd Pitt type sentimentality by calling for a "Free Tibet."

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To contact Bath District Tibet Support Group can be contacted via Email: Bath Dist. Tibet Support