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Tibet Foundation, Dalai Lama, Barrack Obama and The Central Tibetan Administration.

In 1949, seeing that the Communists were gaining control of China, the Kashag expelled all Chinese connected with the Chinese government, over the protests of both the Kuomingtang and the Communists. Neither the Republic of China nor the People's Republic of China has ever renounced China's claim to sovereignty over Tibet.

The Chinese Communist government led by Mao Zedong, which came to power in October, lost little time in asserting a new Chinese presence in Tibet. In June 1950 the UK Government in the House of Commons stated that His Majesty's Government "have always been prepared to recognise Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, but only on the understanding that Tibet is regarded as autonomous" On 7 October 1950, The People's Liberation Armyinvaded the Tibetan area of Chamdo. The large number of units of the PLA quickly surrounded the outnumbered Tibetan forces, and by October 19, 1950, 5,000 Tibetan troops had surrendered. In 1951, representatives of Tibetan authority, with the Dalai Lama's authorization, participated in negotiations with the Chinese government in Beijing. This resulted in a Seventeen Point Agreement which established China's sovereignty over Tibet. The agreement was ratified in Lhasa a few months later. According to the Tibetan government-in-exile, some members of the Tibetan Cabinet (Kashag), for example, Tibetan Prime Minister Lukhangwa, never accepted the agreement. But the National Assembly of Tibet, "while recognizing the extenuating circumstances under which the delegates had to sign the 'agreement', asked the government to accept the 'agreement'...the Kashag told Zhang Jingwu that it would radio its acceptance of the 'agreement'." Tibetan exile sources generally consider it invalid, as having been reluctantly or unwillingly signed under duress. On the path that was leading him into exile in India, the 14th Dalai Lama arrived March 26, 1959 at Lhuntse Dzong where he repudiated the "17-point Agreement" as having been "thrust upon Tibetan Government and people by the threat of arms." and reaffirmed his government as the only legitimate representative of Tibet. According to this agreement between the Tibetan and Chinese central governments, the Dalai Lama-ruled Tibetan area was supposed to be a highly autonomous area of China.

From the beginning, it was obvious that incorporating Tibet into Communist China would bring two opposite social systems face-to-face. In western Tibet, however, the Chinese Communists opted not to make social reform an immediate priority. On the contrary, from 1951 to 1959, traditional Tibetan society with its lords and manorial estates continued to function unchanged. Despite the presence of twenty thousand PLA troops in Central Tibet, the Dalai Lama's government was permitted to maintain important symbols from its de facto independence period.

Tibetan areas in Qinghai, which were outside the authority of the Dalai Lama's government, did not enjoy this same autonomy and had land redistribution implemented in full. Most lands were taken away from noblemen and monasteries and re-distributed to serfs. The Tibetan region of Eastern Kham, previously Xikang province, was incorporated into the province of Sichuan. Western Kham was put under the Chamdo Military Committee. In these areas, land reform was implemented. This involved communist agitators designating "landlords" — sometimes arbitrarily chosen — for public humiliation in so-called "struggle sessions", torture, maiming, and even death. It was only after 1959 that China brought the same practices to Central Tibet.

The Chinese built highways that reached Lhasa, and then extended them to the Indian, Nepalese and Pakistani borders. The traditional Tibetan aristocracy and government remained in place and were subsidized by the Chinese government. The first national census in all of the People's Republic of China was held in 1954, counting 2,770,000 ethnic Tibetans in China, including 1,270,000 in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Free Tibet works on a number of campaigns to create awareness of the situation in Tibet and contribute towards the improvement of human rights for the lives of the Tibetan people. Free Tibet continues to gather information from inside Tibet despite strict Government controls, and to push for international action to solve the current crisis in Tibet.

Most notably Free Tibet focuses on the abolition of torture, freedom of religion, the release of political prisoners, and the lobying of the UK government.


Raja Chandrasekaran

How this will help

As of 14, February 2013 there have been about 100 reported self-immolations in Chinese occupied Tibet since February 27, 2009, when Tapey, a young monk from Kirti Monastery, set himself on fire in...

As of 14, February 2013 there have been about 100 reported self-immolations in Chinese occupied Tibet since February 27, 2009, when Tapey, a young monk from Kirti Monastery, set himself on fire in the marketplace in Ngawa City, Ngawa County, Sichuan. At least 78 have died. In 2011 a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans in Chinese-occupied Tibet, as well as in India and Nepal, occurred after the self-immolation of Phuntsog of March 16, 2011 in Ngawa County, Sichuan.

Most of the protesters have been monks and nuns, or ex-monks Some of the protesters who set themselves on fire were teenagers.

Most such incidents have taken place in China's Sichuan province, especially around the Kirti Monastery in Ngawa City, Ngawa County, Sichuan, others in Gansu and Qinghai provinces and Tibet Autonomous Region. Self-immolation protests by Tibetans also occurred in India and Kathmandu, Nepal.

The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, has said he does not encourage the protests, but he has praised the courage of those who engage in self-immolation and blamed the self-immolations on "cultural genocide" by the Chinese.

Wen Jiabao, premier of China, said that such extreme actions hurt social harmony and that Tibet and the Tibetan areas of Sichuan are integral parts of Chinese territory. According to The Economist, the self-immolations have caused the government's attitude to harden.


Self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese domination of Tibet have had a greater impact than earlier protests. Despite considerable loss of life during the Tibetan protests in 2008 on the part of both the Tibetan and Han population in Tibet, casualties were simply not reported by the Chinese government. Self-immolations, on the other hand, result in dramatic images of the protester, while burning or afterwards, which can be easily transmitted over the internet to news media and supporters. Internet access has reached even remote areas in the parts of China where Tibetans live.

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