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Seeking Emptiness A Photo Essay of Modern Tibet

Seeking Emptiness: A Photo Essay of Modern Tibet is a Beautiful Daze project. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author. Š Rod Purcell 2006 Published by Lulu publishing in the USA. ISBN 1411669304

It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others H.H. The Dalai Lama

This book is dedicated to the memory of the estimated 1.2 million Tibetans who have died as a result of the Chinese occupation of their homeland

Introduction T

his photo essay of Tibet sets out to explore the complex relationship between the remnants of traditional Tibetan culture, the economic and social effects of Chinese occupation and the increasing influence of the processes of globalisation and development. The next section provides a brief context setting narrative of my journey through Tibet as I was researching some of the changes in the country and making the photographs. Essentially though, this is a visual ethnographic project that uses themed images to explore the social condition of Tibet under colonial development, rather than the traditional privileging of text as the main means of communication. As Sarah Pink has pointed put the purpose of using photographs is not to transfer “visual evidence into verbal knowledge” but rather “explore the relationship between visual and other knowledge"1 Like any research there are methodological problems here. The act of photography, like any knowledge generating activity is inherently reflective and I make no claim that that is, or could be, a fully objective account. Photographs, like written texts are subject to further subjective interpretations by the gaze and preconceptions of the viewer/reader. One of the purposes of visual ethnography is to encourage both self reflection and multiple readings of the images. The production of the photographs was informed by a range of social theory; drawing on ideas around the practice of everyday life as micro resistance (de Certeau2), the contested social representations of space and the space of representation (Lefebvre3), the concept of the ‘Spectacle’ (Dubord4) and flows of people, capital and culture as the process of change (Castells5). The book concludes with a brief summary of the history of Tibet, and internet links to organisations supporting the cultural, religious, welfare and political interests of the Tibetan people. Readers who wish to know more about Tibet could usefully start with the Wikipedia article at:

_________________________________________________________________ 1. Pink, S. 2001. Doing Ethnography: Images, Media and Representation in Research, London: Sage 2. de Certeau, M. 1988, The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press 3. Lefebvre, H. 1991, The Production of Space, Oxford: Blackwell 4. Debord, G. 1992, The Society of the Spectacle, Rebel Press 5. Castells, M. 1977, The Urban Question, London: Edward Arnold

Sketches of Tibet Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence


ike most westerners I travelled to Tibet by air. The China Airlines Airbus leaves Kathmandu and climbs over the Himalayas, passing improbably close to Kangenchunga the third highest mountain in the world. To the left is Everest and below is the Tibetan Plateau stretching 3,500 kilometres across and averaging around 5,000 meters high. The plane takes a steep left turn and descends into the valley of the Tsangpo. One of the great rivers of Asia, the Tsangpo runs west to east across the plateau, drops down through steep forested gorges and turns south becoming the Brahmaputra and finally flows into the Bay of Bengal after a journey of 2,800 kilometres from its source in Western Tibet near Mount Kailash, thought by Hindus and Buddhists alike as the centre of the world. The plane lands at the spanking new Gongar airport. Puffing away in the thin air tourists are marshalled through immigration, passing posters outlining passenger rights. This noticeably contrasts with my previous visits when westerners were viewed as agents of imperialism rather than a source of dollars. Fleets of shining people carriers and minibuses speed the 60 odd kilometres to Lhasa along a rebuilt road, new bridge and tunnel complex. Lhasa itself is now a modern sprawling Chinese city that manages to look both old and new at the same time. Broad shop lined boulevards crisscross the city. On a hill to the west the Potala looks imperiously down on the changing landscape. Old Tibet can still be found in an enclave east of the Jokhang. Is this the new China or the traditional Tibet of the western imagination? Therein lays the contradiction that is Tibet today.


setang provides the clearest example of how Tibet is being changed by the Chinese under the guise of modernisation; how town planning and architecture can be used to reflect the new dominant political order. Around 180 kilometres to the east of Lhasa the expanding city of Tsetang sits strangely on the ancient landscape of Yarlung. Tsetang now has a population of over 50,000. The old Tibetan town almost lost in the blandness of the new hotels, shops and government buildings. Wide new roads and what looks like speculative office and industrial sites line the entrance to the town. Heavy investment has been made here and no doubt it will expand further as Chinese immigration into Tibet continues. Like most significant settlements in Tibet there is also a large army camp nearby. A few kilometres south of Tsetang is Yambulagang. This site holds special meaning in Tibetan mythology as it is believed that Buddhist texts fell from here from the sky. The site dates back 2000 years and it is claimed to be the oldest building in Tibet. However, most of it dates from 1982 as the original was blown up by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. The rebuilding though has succeeded in creating a very ancient feel to what is

now a chapel. Further down the Yarlung Valley are the burial sites of the ancient kings of Tibet


ince the 1980’s the Chinese authorities have been rebuilding and renovating key Buddhist monastic sites including the Potala, Samye and Drepung monasteries and Jokhang temple. Although much of the rebuilding of monasteries has been achieved by Tibetans, using their own resources and money sent from Tibetan communities abroad. Some sites like the Potala and Jokhang have been nominated as World Heritage Sites and this is proudly acknowledged by the Chinese. However, for the Chinese this is part of their current strategy to control Buddhist practice in Tibet. Instead of being valued as integral to Tibet identity; Buddhism, monasteries and religious practice is marketed to tourists as quaint historical activity. In effect this is a tourist bubble theme park approach. Most of the guides are Chinese who know little about the intricacies of Tibetan Buddhism. They do however repeat the party line that claims, erroneously, that Tibet is historically part of China and that the Chinese Emperors had authority over the Dalai Lamas. Outside the Jokhang, the holiest part of Lhasa, two huge incense burners pump continual streams of smoke into the air. Tourists mainly Chinese but also westerners view the pilgrims prostrating themselves before the doors of the Jokhang as photo fodder. I also take pictures. Inside the Jokhang long lines of emotionally intense pilgrims crush into the chapels. Tourists wander through mostly oblivious of what the chapels contain and what they mean. On the roof they photograph each other and the views of the city. Surrounding the Jokhang is the Barkhor Kora (or pilgrimage circuit). Both a religious route and the centre of indigenous Tibetan commerce, the Barkhor is now a paved and mostly orderly place with security posts sited along the route. In a cynical play on prayer flags the city authorities have strung the Barkhor with coloured flags celebrating 40 years of Tibet as part of China. This is prime tourist shopping territory. Most westerners appear to respect the religious significance of the route and walk around clockwise. Chinese and Americans appear not to do so. Americans probably because they do not know any better and the Chinese because they don’t care. Beyond the Barkhor are the remnants of traditional Lhasa: shops, houses and small businesses. An interesting development is the fashion for pool and several streets have been taken over by rows of pool halls. Compared to my first visit some 10 years ago the quality of life here for Tibetans in Lhasa, in economic terms, has clearly improved even though the city economy is dominated by the Chinese. For social, religious and cultural changes it is hard to tell, but it is clear that the Tibetan citizens of Lhasa are the ethnic minority here. Politically and culturally, the repression of Tibetans continues. Beijing is clearly in control. Outside of the city the Drepung and Sera Monasteries do their best to keep the monastic tradition alive. With only a fraction of their original number of monks both monasteries have empty buildings and a sad if still grand atmosphere. However, Sera comes alive in the late afternoon when debating takes place in a small walled enclosure. As an academic I am mighty impressed by the debating sessions. Here novices sit on the ground and are grilled by experienced monks on questions of theology and philosophy. The monks pose a question spin around and clap their hands

demanding an immediate response. Those who cannot answer are berated, the sharper novices argue back. This is the educational process at its best For me the most powerful experience was at Nechung, a monastery west of Lhasa where the State Oracle used to live. The Lonely Planet describes Nechung as “an eerie place associated with possession, exorcism and other pre-Buddhist rites. … blood red doors painted with flayed human skin and scenes of human torture”. The industrial strength incense burner is going full blast and the courtyard is obliterated by smoke. In the assembly hall monks are chanting and welcome me in to watch. On the floor above is the audience room where the Dalai Lama sat on a throne whilst the Oracle went into a whirling trance spluttering his advice in Mongolian. Standing alone in this room I can almost feel the intensity of the ritual.


long way off the beaten track, up the far end of high valley sits Tsurphu Monastery. Described by the Lonely Planet as having an air of desolation, it is a remote and peaceful place. The monastery is the official seat of the 17th Karmapa, the head of the Kagyupa or Black Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Karmapa ranks third in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy after the Dalai and Panchen Lamas. The current Karmapa escaped to Daramsala in 1999. He was then just 14 years old. We visit the Karmapa’s personal quarters. It looks like a young boy’s room. Alongside Buddhist artefacts are a small collection of model sports cars, some books in English including an illustrated volume of Fast Cars. In an even remoter side valley is Nenang Monastery the home of the 11th Pawo. The current incarnate is 10 years old. Fortunate to be granted an audience I offer the traditional white scarf and received a blessing in return. In the room watching our interaction are six Chinese officials. The Pawo is under continual observation in case he also escapes to India. Returning to the main road that links Lhasa with China we come across the new railway. Undoubtedly this is an impressive piece of engineering, the line snakes endlessly up the valley as an incongruous intrusion in a remote and beautiful landscape. The sides of the embankments appear to produce good quality grass being grazed by numerous dzos. The line is in the process of being fenced off, both limiting movement across the valley and further adding to the feeling of creeping development. At one of the high passes on the road (over 16,000 feet) we stop to play in the snow. Chinese tourists, some wearing bathroom towels over their light cotton clothing, pose for photographs of each other against the summit marker stone. Strings of prayer flags flap plaintively in the wind. Sometime later we pass through the desolate and intensely depressing truck stop town of Damxung and head onwards to the Nam Tso past nomad encampments where yaks are herded by young men on ornately decorated motorbikes. Nam Tso lake itself is 70 kilometres long and up to 35 kilometres wide, and backed by 7000m snow covered peaks to the north. The waters of Nam Tso change through various shades of turquoise and blue as the light builds and fades during the day. Beside the lake a shanty town of tented accommodation and canteens has grown up to meet the needs of budget tourists and pilgrims walking the nearby kora. Most Chinese tourists come by land cruiser and stay in hotels further back along the new road. Along the shoreline local Tibetans sell yak rides, just like the donkey rides on European beaches; charming and tragic at the same time. Pool tables stand

in puddles alongside the dirt track that passes for the road here. Everywhere prayer flags sweep down from the cliffs.


ne of my favourite places in Tibet is Gyantse. Chinese development has not yet overpowered the original town and for once it feels like old Tibet. The ruined Dzong sits high on a hill looking down on the monastery and the magnificent Kumbum. Built in the 15th century the Kumbun is over 35m high and contains 77 chapels with fine examples of Buddhist art. The Dzong, a site of a battle between the British and Tibetans in 1904, has been turned into what the Chinese sign proclaims to be the ‘AntiBritish Museum’. Without wishing to defend the British invasion of Tibet it is obvious that propaganda is the name of the game here. The facts of the British forces and their intent are distorted. More importantly the displays claim that the Tibetans were defending the motherland of China. This is a completely false claim along with other rewriting of history of the relationship between Tibet and China. The museum drips with irony; the British imperialists left Tibet after a few months, the Chinese are still here. A sign outside the Dzong wall suggests we ‘Jump of the Cliff’ complete with an arrow to indicate the place where we should jump. Eventually we work out this is not an instruction to unwelcome westerners but the site where defeated Tibetan solders jumped to avoid capture by the British. Driving north to Shigatse and the Tashilhunpo we come across a posse of mounted horsemen decked out in flags and ceremonial regalia. Nearby are local women with bottles of chang, the local beer. The barley is ready for cropping and the men are riding the boundaries of the fields as celebration of the harvest. Similar festivals take place in the border region of Scotland near my home. We share jokes with the women even though we have no language in common. It is a fine moment.


he Tashilhunpo Monastery once housed several thousand monks, and even today is more like a small town complete with its herd of antelopes. In the main courtyard high ranking Chinese solders are being photographed and filmed. Once this is completed they get back into their fleet of new Toyotas and drive away, having no need to explore the monastery itself. Towards the end of our visit we come across a group of young monks wearing the ceremonial yellow robes. They are chanting intensely, swaying back and forth. Suddenly they charge directly at the three of us and surge past almost oblivious of our presence, and disappear into a chapel. We are invited into the chapel to watch the service, and sit quietly at the back. A group of Chinese journalists come in and wander around the chapel putting cameras directly in people faces. One of the journalists smokes a cigarette; a blatant exhibition of contempt and power. The Panchen Lama, second in the Buddhist hierarchy is visiting tomorrow and Tashilhunpo is his home monastery. You can feel the tension in the air. But of course this is not the real Panchen Lama. It is believed that the 10th Panchen Lama was poisoned by the Chinese for criticising the abuses of their rule in Tibet. In 1995 the Dalai Lama exercised his prerogative and recognised a 6 year boy as the current 11th Panchen Lama. The boy and his family were taken into ‘protective custody’ by the Chinese and have not been seen since despite a continuing international campaign for his release. The

Chinese encouraged the monks to select a replacement, their choice being the son of a communist party official.


riving back from Everest to the Lhasa – Kathmandu road we take an old and little used route across the Nam La towards the Tingri Plain, apparently the track the British took by horse when they were exploring a northern route to Everest. It is still a route best suited to horses but our little convoy of land cruisers take river crossings, mountainsides and boulder fields in their mechanical stride. We pass small villages of indeterminate age nestled into the valley sides. I wonder how many westerns come this way. We stop for lunch near a small watermill. In the distance a young boy watches a herd of dzos. After a few minutes we are surrounded by children, we can see them running to us from the village a couple of kilometres away. Our Tibetan drivers chat to them and we give them our surplus food to take home. The real prize though is empty water bottles. Everyone is desperate to have them. What effect do we have on these people, rich westerners in big expensive vehicles? We bring globalisation to their door. Do we undermine their traditional way of life with a glimpse of consumerism or do we suggest more positive things. As we drive on I struggle to think what these positives might be, do we help destroy the things we come to experience by the simple fact of being there?


he Friendship Highway that links Lhasa to Kathmandu in Nepal is being rebuilt. In many places there is no road at all. Long lines of heavy trucks queue to struggle across streams, mud flows and boulder riddled landscapes. In one place a truck is embedded in mud and learning over at 30 degrees. Twenty or so Tibetans are hanging on the side trying to pull it upright. If it goes over the road will be blocked. Our land cruiser slides past in the mud. For tens of kilometres road gangs are at work. The heavy machinery is operated by Chinese workers. Most of the work though is carried out by hand by Tibetans; women appear to equal men both in numbers and heavy lifting. Beside the road tented camps (although the tents are mostly sheets of plastic held by down rocks) provide accommodation for the workers. A young Tibetan woman carrying a boulder I would not even contemplate lifting smiles at us. Their humour in adversity is impressive.


t Zhangmu we pass hundreds of trucks awaiting customs clearance. The trucks tail back up the steep side of the gorge back towards the Tibetan plateau. Bored drivers sit by their cabs or roam around the town. It has a real frontier feeling. Tibetans, Chinese, Nepalis and a smattering of westerners hang out in the restaurants. It feels cosmopolitan, but also more relaxed and freer than life in the rest of Tibet.

The Landscape and Rural Life

Tsampa or barley, the staple crop of Tibet

The Tsangpo from Phuntsoling Monastery

Central Tibet

Khampa in formal dress

Yak herding by motorbike near Nam Tso

Nomad camp on the Nyenchen Tanglha Range

‘Hotel’ at Nam Tso

Tourism workers playing pool, Nam Tso

Going home after a day of providing horse rides to tourists, Nam Tso

Chinese tourists at the Yangpachen thermal springs

Prayer flags, Nam Tso

Town Life

Gyantse and the Pelkor Chode Monastery from the Dzong

Gyantse bus station with Dzong in the background




Road crew at work



Long distance lorry driver, Zhangmu boarder crossing to Nepal


Monastic Life


uddhism evolved in northeaster India in the 5th century bce out of the local Brahmanism religion. Although Buddhism is practiced in a variety of forms, from the simplicity of Zen to the complexity of Tibetan practice, it is all fundamentally built on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. Buddhism is based on several core concepts. Siddhartha said that human suffering is based on ignorance and this comes from greed, hatred and delusion. These mental attitudes are based on trying to obtain and hold onto objects, people, relationships, power, etc. However, this is impossible because the world is constantly changing and everything therefore is impermanent. We need to accept the nature of change and recognise that our actions have an effect on how this takes place. Central to our actions must be acting compassionately towards others. Essential to Buddhist practice is the idea of non-attachment. Suffering comes from desire and trying to prevent change. Attachment is where we create in our mind the belief that another person has special properties and that they can make us happy, or that if we have a new house or car then all our problems will be solved. Non-attachment is about cutting through our delusions of how we want the world to be and seeing and responding to the way it really is. The Four Noble Truths are the philosophical base of Buddhism: ™ ™ ™ ™

that life is composed of suffering, suffering is caused by human desires, the solution to suffering is the ending of desire, the way to achieve this through following the practices of the Eightfold Path

The Eightfold Path charts a middle way through the temptations and pain of life. Essentially, it encourages followers to think and act compassionately at all times with respect to: understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness and concentration. By following the path it is possible to achieve merit through compassion and giving. The effect of merit is to promote positive karma. The idea of Karma is based on the belief that people are endlessly reborn and cycle through the Wheel of Life. Every action has its consequences and it is only through creating positive karma that we can move up through the realms of life towards nirvana Therefore the goal of Buddhism is to achieve Nirvana. The word is Sanskrit and means ‘to extinguish’; in this case to extinguish suffering. For most people this is not going to happen (although everyone has the potential to achieve nirvana as we all have Buddha nature within us). By following the path we act compassionately towards others, this creates good karma and we may be reborn in a better position next time. Buddhism suggests that we go through endless cycles of Rebirth. However Buddhism also rejects the idea of a permanent self. In this life we are both not the same, nor totally different, from the self of our previous rebirth. Even in this present life we do not stay the same (due to the nature of impermanence and the effect of karma). We can make choices about who we are and how we live our life.


ibetan Buddhism is complex system of beliefs. At its heart are the fundamentals of Buddhism married to Bon the traditional shamanistic religion of the Tibetan region and Tantric practice from India. Tantrism emphasises the reciting of mantras, symbolic gestures and worshiping deities, as well as drawing on magical processes. The goal of Tantrism is the transcendence of the self. This can be achieved through meditation and ritualised practice. In Tibetan monasteries there are numerous representations of art and deities that depict aspects of human existence and Buddhist teachings. Each of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism reflects a different balance between these competing influences. Buddhism was first established in Tibet by Songsten Gampo around 640 ce. Two of his wives, the Nepalese Princess Bhrkuti and the Chinese Princess Wen Cheng were both Buddhist. They are represented in Tibetan iconography as the Green and White Tara’s. The first monastery was built by Songsten Gampo at Samye and was followed by the initial construction of the Potala Palace, the Jokhang and Ramoche temples in Lhasa to house Buddhist images. In 840 King Lang Darma attempted to eradicate Buddhism from Tibet. In the late 10th century Buddhism was revived by Atisha and other scholars. From the mid 13th century Tibet was controlled by the Mongol Empire. Tibetan Buddhism became the state religion of the empire with the head lama of the Sakya Monastery being its spiritual leader. The Mongol control of Tibet ended in the late 14th century. In 1578 Altan Khan gives the title ‘Dalai (Ocean of Wisdom) to the leader of the Gelugpa order. In 1642 Gushri Khan enthrones the 5th Dalai Lama as ruler of Tibet. Until the Chinese occupation in 1951 the Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet as a theocratic state.

Phuntsoling Monastery

Tashilhunpo Monastery, Shigatse

Monks washing ceremonial lamps, Samye

Monks chanting, Drepung Monastery, near Lhasa

Lighting butter lamps in the assembly hall

Portrait of the 11th Pawo and 17th Karmapa, Nenang Monastery

Monks sleeping quarters

Detail showing traditional colour design, Drepung Monastery, near Lhasa

Offerings, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Shigatse

Traditional symbols on door, near Milarepa’s cave

Phuntsoling Monastery

Tashilhunpo Monastery, Shigatse

Sera Monastery, near Lhasa

Young monk Tashilhunpo Monastery, Shigatse

Rongbuk Monastery near Mount Everest


Monk living in a mediation cave, Drepung Monastery, near Lhasa

Young monks in formal robes, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Shigatse

Monks, Sera Monastery, near Lhasa

Sera Monastery, near Lhasa

Debating session, Sera Monastery, near Lhasa

Debating session, Sera Monastery, near Lhasa

Tashilhunpo Monastery, Shigatse


Drepung Monastery, near Lhasa

Nechung Monastery, near Lhasa

Painting inside Kumbum, Gyantse

Kumbum, Gyantse

Kumbum, Gyantse

Sera Monastery, near Lhasa

Advertisement, Lhasa

Advertisement, Lhasa

Wall paining, Tsurphu Monastery

Wall painting Chinese School, Lhasa


Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace


efore the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese the population of Lhasa was estimated at round 25,000 to 30,000 plus another 15,000 monks in the surrounding monasteries. The city, relatively unchanged for several hundred years comprised of a village below the Potala Palace and a larger settlement around the Jokhang. The current population of Lhasa is estimated to be in excess of 200,000 with an unknown number of Han Chinese floating workers not registered. Lhasa is now a modern Chinese city that sprawls along the valley leaving the traditional Tibetan areas as small and isolated neighbourhoods The city of Lhasa contains three concentric circumambulatories followed by pilgrims, who make full or partial prostrations along these routes in order to gain spiritual merit. The Nangkor is located within the Jokhang temple, and surrounds the sanctuary of the Jowo statue. The middle circumambulatory, the Barkhor passes through the old town and surrounds the Jokhang temple and various other buildings in its vicinity, whilst the Lingkor encircles the entire traditional city of Lhasa. The latter is seldom used now as its route has been rebuilt as Chinese roads and shops. It is estimated that in 2004 over 1 million tourists visited Tibet. The Chinese plan is for this number to increase to around 10 million visitors annually by 2020. The great majority of these tourists will be ethnic Chinese. The Potala, Jokang and some other monasteries have been rebuilt by the Chinese but now function as ‘tourist bubbles’ and struggle to continue their role as the heart of Tibetan culture in the face of tourist numbers. Since the 1980s, increasing economic liberalization and internal mobility has also resulted in the influx of many ethnic Chinese to Tibet for work or settlement. The Government of Tibet in Exile gives the number of non-Tibetans in Tibet as 7.5 million (excluding considerable army units) compared to 6 million Tibetans, and considers this the result of an active policy of demographically swamping the Tibetan people. The new railway line from Qinghai to Lhasa will significantly increase Chinese settlement in Lhasa and the rest of Tibet.

Entertaining tourists, Crazy Yak, Lhasa

Nun in front of the Potala, with the podium for the celebration of 40 years of Tibet as an autonomous republic of China in the foreground

Security patrol, Lhasa

Chinese tourists photographing themselves outside the Jokhang, Lhasa

View of Barkhor Square and the Potala from the roof of the Jokhang, Lhasa

Incense burner outside the Jokhang, Lhasa

View from the Jokhang, Lhasa

Chinese tourists photographing pilgrims, Jokhang, Lhasa

Street photographer’s display, Barkhor Square, Lhasa

Stall selling religious goods, Barkhor Square, Lhasa

The latest fashion in hats, Barkhor Square, Lhasa

Chinese policeman on watch, Barkhor, Lhasa

Tibetan and his new DVD player, Barkhor, Lhasa

The Barkhor, Lhasa

The Barkhor, Lhasa

Tibetan fashion shop, Barkhor, Lhasa

Young Tibetan watching DVD’s, street stall, Lhasa

New shops, Chingdrol Kyil Lam, Lhasa

Shopping complex, Dekyi Shar Lam, Lhasa

Monk shopping, Lhasa

Chinese shop display

Chinese shop, Lhasa

Tibetan shop, Lhasa

Pool Hall, Tibetan Quarter, Lhasa

Old Tibetan Quarter, Lhasa

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

History of Modern Tibet 1950 Red China invades Tibet; Tibetan army destroyed in battle at Chamdo. 1951 17 Point Agreement between China and Tibet; Chinese occupy Lhasa. 1955 Kham is detached from Tibet and administered directly by the CCP 1956 Tibetans in Kham and Qinghai (Amdo) begin revolt against CCP rule. 1957 The United States begins to arm the Tibetan resistance via CIA. 1959 Anti-Chinese revolt spreads to Lhasa; 14th Dalai Lama flees to India. 1960 A report by the International Commission of Jurists concludes that, “acts of genocide (have) been committed in Tibet in an attempt to destroy the Tibetans as a religious group”. 1962 China-India War: China advances beyond McMahon Line, then withdraws. 1963 The Tibetan Government-in-Exile writes a democratic constitution for a future liberated Tibet. 1965 China sets up Tibet Autonomous Region in U'Tsang and western Kham. 1966-69 Cultural Revolution: Red Guards rampage destroys most Tibetan temples. 1969 Fighting among Red Guard factions; PLA intervenes to restore order. 1971 The United States cuts off military aid to the Tibetan resistance. 1974 Nepal forces the Tibetan resistance to leave its base in Mustang. 1979 China allows delegation from Government-in-exile to visit Tibet. 1980 CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang visits Tibet and promises to “restore the Tibetan economy to its pre-1959 level”. 1982 Solzhenitsyn calls the CCP regime in Tibet "more brutal and inhuman than any other communist regime in the world." 1987 Police fire on a massive pro-independence demonstration in Lhasa. 1988 Qiao Shi, China's security chief, visits Tibet and vows to “adopt a policy of merciless repression”. Speaking in Strasbourg, the Dalai Lama makes a "five point" peace plan for a Tibet within China. 1989 Dalai Lama receives Nobel Peace Prize; martial law imposed in Tibet. 1992 China declares Tibet ‘open’ to foreign investment. Chen Kuiyuan is named CCP leader for Tibet and calls for a purge of those party members who “act as internal agents of the Dalai Lama clique”. 1993 Residents of Lhasa protest against price increases and the charging of fees for formally free medical services. 1994 Potala Palace, DL's traditional residence, is restored and reopened. 1995 China denounces the six-year old boy recognised by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, and imposes its own candidate. 1996 China bans the displaying of photographs of the Dalai Lama.

(Source: Free Tibet Campaign)

Further Information ™ Canada Tibet Committee Home of the World Tibet Network News and Archive which features daily news reports about Tibet ™ As long as BP remains invested in PetroChina, BP continues Backing Persecution ™ Climb for Tibet runs and walks

raising funds and awareness through sponsored climbs, ™ France - Tibet Tibet support group based in Paris. Includes an English language section ™ Government of Tibet In Exile

Official site of the Dalai Lama ™ International Tibet Support Network A network of Tibet related nongovernmental organisations from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia and Europe ™ Meridian Trust

Buddhist film and video archive ™ Students for a Free Tibet non-violent action

International network promoting education and ™ The Gere Foundation

assists the cultural survival of the Tibetan people ™ The Times of Tibet A non-profit Online News Service on current issues, events, and developments concerning Tibet. ™ Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy based in Dharamsala it works to protect and promote human rights of the Tibetan people ™ Tibetan Community in Britain living in Britain

Events and awareness raising by Tibetans ™ Tibet Dreams A new shop based in London selling stylish clothing designed by young Tibetans as well as books and CDs on Tibet. ™ Tibet Foundation

Creating awareness of Tibetan culture ™ Tibet House A Non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of Tibetan culture. ™ Tibet Information Network

An independent news and research service ™ Tibet Online a virtual community space for the Tibet movement, with links to Tibet groups around the world ™ Tibet Society and Tibet Relief Fund Keeping Tibet alive through UK campaigning and overseas development. ™ Voice of Tibet

Daily RealAudio broadcasts in Tibetan ™ World Artists for Tibet violations

Artists' initiative to combat human rights

Seeking Emptiness  

A photo essay of modern Tibet

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