By Lobsang Yeshi
(The myth of the Tibetan Terrorism- A Study)
‘From the much abused clichés of ‘liberation’ and ‘globalization’, ‘Terrorism’, today has emerged as the latest global tool of tyranny and subjugation, and China is using it to the hilt’Introduction
In a rare interview recently, Zhang Qingli, CPC’s TAR Party Chief stated that “dealing with Tibetan separatists is more complicated for China than fighting the Uyghur Muslim militants in Xinjiang as the former have not been categorized by UN as terrorists and are aided by ‘foreign anti-China forces’”. He further stated that while “ETIM, the main separatist force in Xinjiang, has been listed as a terrorist group by the United Nations so authorities can fight them when they strike. But the strategy to deal with separatist forces in Tibet, such as the Tibetan Youth Congress, needs to be different because they are not categorized as terrorist yet”.
This statement evidently reveals China’s desperation to brand all Tibetans especially the Tibetan Youth Congress as separatists and terrorists. The acknowledgement also reveals how they are failing in their endeavor despite years of determined effort in that direction.
As we stepped into the 21st century, China inarguably emerged as one of the most powerful nations receiving a great degree of global attention and interest. Its so-called economic miracles, infrastructural development, surging diplomatic and military power and the ensuing clout and influence remain major topics of discussion in global power theatres. Correspondingly, the lack of freedom and human rights in China and the absence of rule of law and the totalitarian regime of its one party dictatorship have received significant exposure.
However, one major global failure and laxity in scrutinizing China is its most vicious campaign to abuse ‘anti-terrorism or counter-terrorism’ measures to trample human rights and freedom in the occupied territories of Tibet, East Turkistan and Mongolia. Ironically, to our great amusement, China claims to be affected by Terrorism worst than Al Qaida’s.
False allegations and propaganda is one thing and accusations with concrete evidence are another. But not anymore for China. Today, China is making every effort to create convincing stories and allegations backed by solid ‘proof’. Therefore, like in their past traditions, China is again staging Tibetan terrorist attacks and bombing incidences with ‘eyewitnesses’ and their accounts. China is already preparing a special Dossier with a list of Tibetan Terrorist Attacks with the sole motivation to defame and malign the peaceful Tibetan freedom struggle. If nothing is done now, it won’t be long before China launches a full-scale counter –terrorist attack on Tibetans and ‘legally and morally’ wipe out the Tibetan struggle and the race.
Today, the Chinese official statements, diplomatic exchanges, its state owned media, state affiliated research departments and its 50 cent army in chat rooms and blogs etc prioritize the subject of Terrorism as a major national concern. Every incident of violence in Tibet, East Turkistan and China is alleged to be an act of terrorism involving the Uyghurs and Tibetans. Peaceful and law-abiding protestors voicing their genuine grievances are labeled as separatist and terrorist and convicted with severe penalties including death sentence and lengthy prison terms. At its height, this reckless campaign even targeted innocent high lamas and monks, intellectuals, writers, singers, social workers, environmentalists and businessmen, framing them as terrorists and prosecuting them arbitrarily.
The greatest worry is the extent to which China has gone in branding the Uyghurs and the Tibetans as terrorists. China, today, is staging numerous terrorist attacks and violent protests to build-up fake evidences of terrorist attacks by Tibetans and Uyghurs. Some attacks are staged even at the cost of the lives of innocent Chinese citizens. In the absence of any follow-up investigations by independent international bodies, these campaigns not only help in branding Tibetans and Uyghurs as Terrorists but also build anti-Tibetan and anti-Uyghur sentiments amongst the major Han Chinese. It further serves in legitimizing the Chinese Government’s violent crackdown on Tibetans and Uyghurs.
China, most surreptitiously, exploits its stooges and running dogs in the international media, independent research institutes and various friendly and economically dependent Governments the world over to endorse its allegations and accusation of the so called Uyghur and Tibetan terrorism as a build-up for receiving ultimate recognition from the UN and other global institutions.
Typical to the propagandist history of the Chinese Communist Party, China continues to employ all means to defame the opposition and win credibility for their actions. Images and videos of staged events depicting the ‘crimes’ of a people are some of the most prominently and effectively used propaganda materials by China.)
Such ‘evidences’ in the form of films, photos, forced confessions, distorted historical documents, photo-shopped images and tampered records don the shelves of China’s magnificent exhibition halls and museums in Beijing to aghast the Chinese public and foreign visitors, luring them into their propaganda trap.
Additionally, the failure to investigate and authenticate the so called evidences is further worsened by the grossly fabricated reports of China’s state media agencies such as Xinhua and CCTV. With the tight restrictions placed on international reporters in China and the general clampdown on information in China, the global media helplessly depend on information from the Chinese government and its agencies.
Proof that these campaigns have borne fruits is the reports of growing anti-Tibetan sentiment among the Chinese in mainland China and their new found fear and apprehension of Tibetans.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on US, China has emerged as a prominent nation that employs ‘war on terror’ as a massive state strategy to crush any social or political dissent. The world has barely spoken against China’s crimes against humanity as the Tibetan and the Uyghur people continue to suffer the most gruesome injustice and repression.
Making matters worse, a substantial group of people in the media, and amongst intellectuals and researchers the world over, continues to relish the thought of the birth of Buddhist Terrorism in Tibet and often speculates a perceptible shift to terrorism by Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. After coining terms such as Christian Terrorism, Islamic Terrorism and Hindu Terrorism the world now craves for Buddhist Terrorism for a change. So, instead of taking the cynical Chinese assertion to a task, they seem to be feasting on Chinese propaganda.
My years at the Tibetan Youth Congress provided me with enough opportunities to meet writers, journalists and strategists who advised, enquired or asserted the need of violence in TYC’s struggle for Tibetan Independence. On many occasions, I could sense the interviewer’s desperation to hear the slightest of references to violence and on no fewer occasions many of them were virtually forcing the words ‘violence’ and ‘terrorism’ into my mouth. Our strong warnings against any misquotes didn’t help when Mr. Benjamin Robertson from SCMP and the Scotsman quoted my so-called statement on TYC opting for violence as a means of struggle.
An encounter with an Indian film maker during the March to Tibet (a peace march organized by the 5 major Tibetan NGOs) in the summer of 2008 still resonates in my mind while I think of these developments. Mr Akhil Bali, Mumbai based Director of the documentary film ‘YETI’ while narrating the script of his film on the Tibetan struggle said that the ending scene of his film will show the main Tibetan character dying as a suicide bomber albeit on a hill top watching the Chinese military garrisons underneath.
Knowing the reality of the background under which the so-called media in China functions and reports, and the depleted recognition and credibility accorded to the Chinese Government’s statements and assertions the world over, the ceaseless churning of Chinese propaganda stories do not deserve the interest of our time or energy. Yet, an impartial scrutiny of China’s unchallenged stories of regional terrorism is a historic necessity for the sake of setting the records straight and to demonstrate the extents to which a government can go to mislead its own people and the world.
An extensive study on how the Chinese government misused the ‘war on terror’ in the last several years to frame the Tibetans as a terrorist would shock the world, especially the mainland Chinese. It is one of the most ludicrous and ruthless accusations that China has launched so far on the Tibetans. With the forceful advent of Chinese (not Mongols, not Manchus) into Tibet in the early 1950s to ‘liberate Tibetans from western imperialist’ to the purpose of ‘liberating Tibetan masses from serfdom and poverty’, and to liberate Tibetans from ‘Buddhist clerics and aristocracy’, the latest drive by the Communist Government is to fight the ‘Tibetan splittists and the terrorists’ that allegedly threatens the unity and peace of not just China but the world at large.
Right after 9/11, in fact a month later, the Chinese Government’s misuse of counter terrorism as state weapon to crush dissents and their struggle for freedom and justice in Tibet and East Turkistan led the former US President Bush to warn China during APEC summit in Shanghai in October 2001 that the “war on terrorism must never be an excuse to persecute minorities.”
On April 7th 2002, barely 6 months after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, in gross violation of every international and Chinese law, China arrested 2 Tibetans; Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Lobsang Dondup as terrorists and accused them of involvement in a bomb blast, inciting separatism and possessing weapons. China summarily executed Lobsang Dondup on 26th January 2003 and sentenced Tulku Tenzin Delek (to death with a two year reprieve which was later to commuted life imprisonment after much international campaigns and diplomatic pressures.
The latest execution of four Tibetans namely Lobsang Gyaltsen, Loyak, Phenkyi and an unidentified Tibetan are a case in point. Thousands of peaceful protestors are still in prison with the imminent danger of facing execution or life imprisonment under Chinese anti terrorism laws.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has time and again preached about the necessity of peaceful means for resolution of the Tibetan crisis and reminded Tibetans that any violent means of freedom struggle would make him dissociate himself from leading the Tibetan people.
In an interview with Sound of Hope reported by the Epoch times on 24th March 2008, Mr. Ruan Ming, a former advisor to Deng Xiaoping, admitted that "if he (the Dalai Lama) really retires, the CCP could gradually push and label the Tibetans as terrorists like the Xinjiang independence movement”.
In a response to China’s allegations dated 26 May 2008, the Government of Tibet based in India, clarifies that, “In the case of Tibet, the Chinese authorities are stoking ethnic tension in five areas. Agent provocateurs have infiltrated the ranks of Tibetan protestors and indulged in violence to create deep rifts between Tibetans and Chinese. The authorities' relentless demonization of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is hurting Tibetan sentiments. China's brutal crackdown on the Tibetans is sowing the seeds of complete distrust in the authorities. The Chinese government's inflammatory use of the media and biased reporting is creating more misunderstanding amongst the Chinese people. The Chinese government's active encouragement of overseas Chinese students' association to counter pro-Tibet protests with protests of their own is contributing to mutual suspicion.” Staging Lies and Videotape
If today, China has achieved little recognition and credibility from the Chinese people and the world over the information and statistics it publishes, it is simply the result of the many “facts” that they have staged, forged and filmed. It is a well known fact that almost the entire history books and official documents produced by CCP are replete with faked, forged statistics and facts. So much so that, Ross Terrill in his famous book, “The New Chinese Empire” asserted that “Chinese history books are a concoction of tales and norms, regularly distorted for power purposes. The Chinese polity has had a tumultuous history, now an operating force, now a kingdom of the imagination….. History and reality are left in the dust, myth takes over.”
He further reckons how even during the ancient Tang dynasty, China staged and faked ‘facts’. He writes: “A study of the Tang period shows how the Chinese court wriggled out of marriage agreements it could not explicitly refuse, at a time when the Tibetans and the Uighurs were strong- Out of twenty-one Chinese Princesses given in marriage to non-Chinese rulers, only three were truly the daughters of the empire-the rest were fake. In 658, Tibet asked China for a fresh matrimonial union. For decades the Chinese court dragged its feet. In 702, Empress Wu agreed in principle. But only after further Tibetan pressure did the Chinese, in 706, pick a bride. The Tibetans were told the girl was a daughter of a grandson of Emperor Gao Zong. The Emperor himself had brought the child up, said the Chinese side. None of this was true. Still, the Chinese staged a tearful farewell ceremony between the emperor and the departing maiden, with court poets on hand to catch the moment on verse.”
“Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party of China”, a powerful analytical document published by the Epoch Times in December 2004, that shocked Chinese the world over and also shook the very core of the CCP structure, reveals the true history of CCP.
It states, “To make history serve the current regime, the CCP has made a practice of altering and concealing historical truth. The CCP in its propaganda and publications has rewritten history for periods from as early as the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC) and the Warring States period (475-221 BC) to as recently as the Cultural Revolution. Such historical alterations have continued for more than 50 years since 1949, and all efforts to restore historical truth have been ruthlessly blocked and eliminated by the CCP.”
Similarly, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday in their classic book, “Mao- the Unknown Story” depict a series of lies, conspiracy and propaganda enacted by the CCP to fool and mislead the world. It also illustrates how, when the Red troops entered Nanjiang to a conspicuously cool welcome, the Communists later filmed reconstructions of the takeover of the cities and showed them as if they were real events.
The authors also described how Mao used false propaganda to denigrate the Tibetan. The book reads: “On 17th April, 1959, Mao made enquiries about Tibetans practices. One thing he was particularly keen to know was whether the Tibetans ruling class used torture, and whether disobedient lamas were skinned alive and had their tendons severed. On the 29th, following Mao’s orders, a vigorous media campaign began, painting Tibet as a terrifying place, where gruesome tortures of the kinds Mao had mentioned, plus gouging out eyes, were everyday occurrences. Aided by age-old prejudices, this propaganda drive was effective, and Mao succeeded in planting the idea in peoples mind that Tibet was a land of barbarism.” Its left for us to wonder, how many Chinese might have built their image of the Tibetans based on these fake stories and myths.
Testifying eyewitness accounts of China’s vicious statecraft of forgery, Robert Ford in his book, “Captured in Tibet” recounts as an eyewitness how China reconstructed the surrender of the Tibetan troops after the fall of Chamdo in October 1950 in a favourable depiction. He recounts: “After the actual defeat of the Tibetan troops, the next morning, more Chinese troops came in from the Chamdo trail. This contingent brought a newsreel camera with them. While the equipment was set up, the Tibetan troop was given back their weapons; then lined up and, with the camera running, laid down their rifles for the second time. They were told to smile. They smiled. The Chinese then turned the camera on me, standing between two soldiers armed with tommy-guns. Others films showed the monks welcoming the Chinese and Ngapo signing the surrender of all forces in Kham”.
One of the successful smear campaigns launched by the PLA during the early 50’ was against the reputation of the most loved and respected Tibetan Resistance force of Chushi Gangdruk. Roger E. McCarthy in his book, “Tears of the Lotus” quotes Andruk Gompo Tashi, the Commander of Tibetan Resistant Force on the Chinese campaigns to smear the reputation of the Chushi Gangdruk by fabricating stories of their misdeeds. Roger E. McCarthy quoted Commander Gonpo Tashi complaining, “The Communists were livid and launched an international smear campaign. From 1958 onwards, the New China News Agency floated fabricated dispatches of khampa misdeeds including the theft, plunder, rape and murder of fellow Tibetans. The khampas were accused of, among other things, desecrating monasteries and raping nuns. (These atrocities, of course happening with appalling regularity-were perpetrated by the accusers.) The Chinese went further: they dressed troops in khampa disguises and then sent them out on raiding parties to steal local’s horses and goods……Besides these, Chinese also paid a number of Tibetan renegades and bandits to cause problems to the local Tibetans.” Such misconceptions about the glorious and patriotic Chushi Gangdruk soldiers persist amongst a section of Tibetans even today.
Tsering Shakya, author of “Dragon in the land of Snow” in his article titled, “Tibet and China: The past in the present” published on 22nd March, 2009 speaks further about the Chinese propaganda methods of screening films and documentaries on various themes to indoctrinate Tibetans in Tibet. Recounting his childhood in Tibet, Mr Shakya recounts: “As a child growing up in Lhasa, I remember when the epic Chinese film Nongnu (The Serf , directed by Li Jun) was first shown in Tibet. The film depicted the harrowing life of a “Serf ” called Jampa whose parents are killed by an evil landlord and who is used as a human horse for his master’s child until freed from bondage by the arrival of the PLA. The film, meant to arouse indignation amongst the people against the Tibetan elite’s class oppression, is still seen in China as a powerful depiction of the Tibetan social system. But when it was shown in Lhasa, nobody watched it with quite those sentiments. Many of the local audience had watched Li Jun and his crew shooting the film; they also knew the actors, and had heard stories that they were just following instructions and were not allowed to correct many of the inaccuracies in the film. This didn’t affect the performance of sentiment. Everyone in Tibet was supposed to watch the film and cry; in those days if you did not cry, you risked being accused of harbouring sympathy with the feudal landlords. So my mother and her friends would put tiger-balm under their eyes to make them water.”
The Dharamsala based Government of Tibet published an article on 13 October 2008, titled, “CTA's Response to Chinese Government Allegations: Part Five”. The response delved on the issues of Chinese soldiers posing as Tibetans. “Ever since the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, the PLA soldiers have been in the habit of doing exactly this: posing as Tibetan monks in order to sow dissension, create distractions and to serve as agents provocateur to incite un-suspecting Tibetan masses into actions that justify quick, military response.”
The report further notes, “A former treasurer of Namgyal Monastery, Venerable Gyaltsen writes that during the 1959 Uprising in Lhasa, Chinese soldiers dressed as Tibetans climbed the Chokpori, next to the Potala Palace and burned incense and strung prayer flags so as to give the impression to the Tibetan public that the Tibetan side had won in the fighting in Lhasa. This was also done to draw out the Tibetan fighters from their hideouts to make it easier for the PLA soldiers to shoot at them.”
The Tibetan Government’s response also highlights the testimony of former political prisoner Venerable Bagdro on how during the 1988 March 5th Lhasa demonstration, the Chinese government ordered a large number of Chinese officials and soldiers to disguise as Tibetan monks and lay Tibetans and deployed them throughout the city.
The Chinese Government’s dubious role in orchestrating violent riots during the late 1980s has been vividly reported by Mr. Tang Daxian, a Chinese journalist. In an article titled, “Events in Lhasa March 2-10, 1989" Mr Tang wrote about the action order passed by the Chief Commander of Armed Police headquarter, Mr. Li Lianxiu on March 5 to the Armed Police in Tibet ordering the Special Squad to immediately assign 300 members to be disguised as ordinary citizens and Tibetan monks. The disguised security perosnnels, as Mr Tang notes, were then ordered to enter the Eight-Corner Street and other riot spots in Lhasa, to support plain-clothes police to complete the task.
Similarly, Mr. Stephen Gregory in an article titled, “Propaganda, Deception, and the 'Riots' in Lhasa” released in the Epoch Times on 25 march 2009 quoted Mr Ruan Ming, the former speechwriter for the late Chinese leader Hu Yaobang, as believing that the violent unrest in Lhasa was carefully planned in order to discredit the Dalai Lama and to justify further suppression. Mr. Ruan further warned international society that they need to keep their eyes wide open and understand the violent and deceptive nature of the CCP. He seriously warned that “the riots in Lhasa allow the regime to label the Tibetans as terrorists, and take away the Dalai Lama's moral authority.”
Mr Stephen further explains: “In January, 2001 it was reported that 5 Falun Gong practitioners had set themselves ablaze on Tiananmen Square. A careful examination of the propaganda video of the immolations that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) broadcast ceaselessly on mainland TV revealed that the immolations had been staged.”
China’s ploy to steer violence through agent provocateurs during the March Uprising in Tibet was confirmed by the London based Britain GCHQ, the government communications agency that electronically monitors half the world from space. According to an article titled, “Sources at British Spy Agency Confirm Tibetan Claims of Staged Violence” published in G2 Bulletin on 27th march, by Gordon Thomas states that, “The images they downloaded from the satellites provided confirmation that Chinese used agent provocateurs to start riots, which gave the PLA the excuse to move in troops into Lhasa to kill and wound Tibetans”.
On 20th April 2008, Mr. B. Raman, a former additional secretary in the cabinet secretariat of the government of India, writing at www.saag.org asserted that the violent protests inside China as well as abroad are being sponsored and directed by the Ministry of Public Security, which is China's internal intelligence and security agency.
Likewise during the 1989 Pro-Democracy Demonstration at the Tiananmen Square, the People's Liberation Army dressed up the dead bodies of the murdered students in soldier's uniforms and photographed, in order to "prove" that the students had been violent and had killed Government soldiers.
More gruesome reports of Chinese staging of false events come from Tibet during the 2008 uprising. A press statement released by India based Kirti Monastery on 30th March titled, “Tibetan monks forced to participate in staged videos”, reported that thousands of Chinese security forces raided the monastery and forced stage and videotaped various scenes of the Kirti Monastery monks in their rooms to falsely indict them of involving in violence and riots etc. In a secret phone call made by one of the resident monks, the monk warned that, "I am worried that the CCP is creating false evidence to try to show that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the mastermind behind the protests in Tibet. The security forces forced us to act out these scenes against our will with guns pointed at us. I appeal to the people of the world, do not be persuaded by these fake videos".
Such instances of filming of enacted incidents have also been reported from Ngari Rutog (Western Tibet) and Karze region where Chinese security forces disguised as monks and Tibetans riot in markets while the security forces reciprocate with restraint.
Similarly, according to Chinese woman who lives in Thailand and witnessed the uprising in Lhasa during March 2008, confirmed that the Chinese government had staged violence in Lhasa by employing Chinese police to pose as Tibetans. She clearly identified the Chinese policeman working at Lhasa Police Station posing as a Tibetan rioter carrying a sword. The photo of the Chinese soldier posing as a Tibetan rioter was flashed across the globe by the Chinese media before his true identity was revealed later by the Thai women.
According to Tibetan sources, Chinese troops in Tibet, during the 2008 Olympic period, carried out a mock protest, complete with Tibetan flags, police firing etc. Chinese soldiers dressed as protestors pad participated in the mock protests. Sources have speculated that the protest was being filmed, perhaps for propaganda purposes as well as to train military personnel.Tibetans: World’s Most Dreaded Terrorists?
In the last one decade, especially after the 9/11 globalization of Terrorism, Tibetans have been indiscriminately termed as separatist, extremist and terrorist by the Chinese Government. China’s campaigns to brand Tibetans as fierce terrorists, worst than Taliban and the Al-Qaida became even more vociferous after the massive Tibetan uprising in March 2008. The communist government has left no stone unturned to generate the false perception of China as a country reeling under disastrous terrorist crisis perpetrated by Tibetans.
In its White Paper on defense, released on 20th Jan 2009, China cited Tibet as a cause of security concern for China. It states that “it faces strategic maneuvers and containment from the outside while having to face disruption and sabotage by separatist and hostile forces from the inside. … Separatist forces working for "Taiwan independence," "East Turkistan independence" and "Tibet independence" pose threats to China's unity and security.”
Similarly, in Chinese chat rooms, blogs and website forums, Chinese netizens, many of who are paid by the communist party, denounce Tibetans as terrorists no different to the 9/11 Islamic terrorists. Some accused Tibetans as “evil criminals alien to respect, love and peace” and hoped that the whole world would work together against the Tibetan terrorist. They further aired that “only if the Tibetan terrorists disappear from this world, the world will recover its true color- love, respect and freedom.”
Likewise, China’s massive anti-Tibetan propaganda reached its pinnacle when it put ruthless efforts in portraying the Tibetan Youth Congress, the most popular and respected Tibetan organization in exile, as a Terrorist group more dreadful than Al Qaeda.
In a series of rhetorical and fabricated articles, China alleged that the TYC, since its birth, advocated and practiced violence and terrorism. The communist party writers came up with their own unique quotes and declared that the TYC has at some point stated, “ the use of violence and terrorism represent the "only way" for Tibetans to achieve its complete independence.” Certain write-ups also blamed TYC for not ruling out employing suicide bombers and one article even claimed that the TYC had actually trained over 100 suicide bombers in the summer of 2008.
One of the most cynical allegations by the Chinese Government through its so-called researchers at the Beijing based Tibetology Research Center and its official mouthpiece like Xinhua is the assertion that the Tibetan Youth Congress is recognized as a terrorist group by many countries and that 'TYC is a pure terrorist organization'
Another editorial claimed, “TYC is the common enemy of all humans.” This propaganda warfare was backed by misquotes and fabricated statements supposedly made by TYC leaders.
Likewise China’s latest vociferous onslaught was against the current TYC President Tsewang Rigzin who according to the Chinese communist party told the Milan based newspaper ‘Corriere della Serra’ that "it's a trend to use suicide bombers and that can be done to seek independence of Tibet".
That these Chinese allegations have been refuted time and again by the TYC leaders need no repetition. One of the most interesting fact is that despite Chinese Government’s relentless onslaught on Tibetans as Terrorists, when China issued its first ever "terrorist" wanted list, not a single Tibetan ‘Terrorist’ featured in the black list. The controversial and the disputed terrorist list issued on 15 December 2003, blamed four Muslim separatist groups and 11 individuals for a string of bombings and assassinations and called for international assistance to track them down.
The banned groups named by the Chinese Government’s Ministry of Public Security included the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, the East Turkestan Liberation Organization, the World Uygur Youth Congress, and the Eastern Turkistan Information. The eleven terrorists the ministry identified were Hasan Mahsum, Muhanmetemin Hazret, Dolkun Isa, Abudujelili Kalakash, Abudukadir Yapuquan, Abudumijit Muhammatkelim, Abudula Kariaji, Abulimit Turxun, Huadaberdi Haxerbik, Yasen Muhammat, and Atahan Abuduhani. There wasn’t a single Tibetan organizations or an individual on that banned list.
Furthermore, Chinese Government officials during a press conference on 18 November 2003, failed to confirm their own allegations on Tibetans as terrorists when asked whether China regards Tibetan separatism as terrorism and if Dalai Lama was a terrorist. Mr. Liu Jianchao, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson evading a direct response, simply stated that the Chinese side is resolutely opposed to terrorism of any kind, no matter where it is and whoever conducts it and that China would resolutely oppose it.
Today, China is adopting similar tactics in its branding of the Tibetans as the terrorists as it has adopted against the Uighurs in the late 1990s and early 2000.
According to the PRC’s 2002 report, Chinese Government alleged that in February 1998 Hasan Mahsum, leader of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) sent “scores of terrorists” into China, where they established about a dozen bases in Xinjiang and “inland regions” and trained more than 150 terrorists in fifteen training classes. They were also alleged to have set up large numbers of “training stations” and organized workshops for producing weapons, ammunition, and explosives. And that Xinjiang police reportedly uncovering “many” of these training stations and workshops, confiscating antitank grenades, grenades, detonators, guns, and ammunition.
In a corresponding allegation against the Tibetans, Xinhua news on Nov. 24 2008 in a report titled, “Tibetan newspaper condemns secessionists' violent activities” quoted Tibet Daily as blaming secessionists for organizing three terrorist attacks involving explosives in the Qamdo Prefecture, in the eastern part of the autonomous region, adjoining Sichuan Province.
The Xinhua report further stated, “The paper also had a brief look back on the terrorist history of the ‘Tibet Youth Congress’ since it was founded in 1970. The terror group held training courses on the use of explosives. In January 2007, secessionists claimed that it had trained 450 activists. In April this year, the police received tips from monks and lay people, and captured a large number of weapons from temples in Tibet and elsewhere.”
Zhu Weiqun, Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the main CCP official responsible for the ongoing Sino-Tibet dialogue said repeated the terrorism accusation. Speaking to the press, Zhu said, "They (TGiE) supported the 'Tibetan Youth Congress' and other organizations to publicly advocate 'Tibetan independence' and fanned or organized violent criminal activities".Media on Tibetan Terrorism
The worst developments regarding the Chinese allegations of Tibetan violence and terrorism is that certain groups in the international media started discussing about the possible Tibetan’s perceptional shift to terrorism. On May 20th 2008, few months after the historic uprising in Tibet, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, in an article titled,“Terrorism may be coming to Tibet” delved into the futility of peaceful resistance spearheaded by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and claimed that Tibetans were moving towards the path of violence. He further asserts, “Unless the Tibet question is resolved, we may see a Tibetan equivalent of the Irish Republican Army or Hamas…….and that Time is running out, however, for at this rate, Shangri-La may become a breeding ground for terrorists”.
"Beijing Olympics: A Humanist Success despite Tibetan Terrorism and Western Imperialism" reads the title of an article by Saswat Pattanayak. In the article Mr. Saswat brands “the Tibetan uprising in Tibet (March 2008) as one of the most dastardly instances where the violent riots orchestrated by Tibetan mobs included more than 5,000 terrorists”.
Similarly Mr. B.Raman, former Additional Secretary and Cabinet Secretariat of Govt. of India and the Director of Chennai based Institute for Topical Studies expressed concern over perceptible shift in Tibetan exiles’ violent nature in struggle. In an article titled, “Tibet: Dangers of backlash” published on 9th April, 2008 he stated, “The increasing disregard of the Dalai Lama and his advice by some sections of Western-resident Tibetan youth is evident from their going ahead with their attempts to disrupt the movement of the Olympic Torch and to sabotage the forthcoming Beijing Olympics despite the repeated statements of His Holiness against any act of disruption.”
Mr. Raman further alleged: “Since 2003, there have been indications that a group of foreign citizens ---mainly from the West---- of Tibetan origin have been radicalising the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) and egging it on to disregard the advice of His Holiness in favour of non-violence and moderation and to adopt an increasingly confrontational line. In September last year, this group assumed a dominating influence in the TYC and has been behind the confrontation witnessed recently in Tibet, London, Paris and San Francisco…….It is important to keep up the momentum of the Tibet movement alive. At the same time, it is equally important to discard methods which could damage the movement.”The First Tibetan Terrorists?
On April 3, 2002, a bomb explosion (a simple fuse device) in Tianfu Main Square in Chengdu city, in China’s southwest Sichuan Province reportedly left at least one person injured. Later, Lobsang Dondup, a 28 years old Tibetan, was arrested for his alleged involvement in the incidence. On December 2, 2002, the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan province sentenced him to death for allegedly masterminding seven terrorist incidents, possession of weapons and inciting separatism.
He was summarily executed on January 26, 2003 without proper evidence and trial. Lobsang Dondup, thus become the first ever Tibetan “Terrorist” to be executed by the Chinese Government after the 9/11 terror attack in United States.
However, the entire process of Lobsang Dondup’s arrest, sentence and the subsequent execution is riddled with myriad contradictions and irregularities pointing clearly to Lobsang Dondup’s innocence and China’s foul play. It was widely believed that he was falsely indicted and framed to incriminate Tulku Tenzin Delek indirectly. The execution of Lobsang Dondup and the conviction of Tulku Tenzin Delek clearly involved greater political intrigue.
On 24 April 2002, London based Tibet Information Network (TIN) in its report titled; “Bomb blast in Chengdu” quoted various rumors in Chengdu linking the bomb not just to the Tibetans but also the disaffected Chinese workers and Falun Gong practitioners among others. And although the Chinese official Xinhua news agency on 24th April 2002, reported that the bomb explosion caused "many injuries", TIN stated that a report received by TIN indicated that one passer-by was slightly injured in the blast. That the Chinese officials gradually magnified the casualty from the blast to one injury to one death and several injuries and property damage of several thousands, is yet another case of distortion and foul play and nothing else. The only sad part is that many played along the Chinese version of the incidence in their so-called bit to maintain a fair judgment.
Human Rights Watch in its thorough investigation report tilted, “Trial of a monk: The case of Trulku Tenzin Delek” documents numerous irregularities on the charges against Lobsang Dondup and Tulku Tenzin Delek by the Chinese Government raising number of questions.
The most severe official contradiction surfaced during Lobsang Dondup’s arrest. HRW’s report states that “the Official reports at the time of the verdict identified Lobsang Dondrup as having been apprehended “fleeing the scene” of the April 3, 2002 blast. However, one person told Human Rights Watch that a local Sichuan television news program initially broadcast a picture of an ethnic Chinese man who was being sought in connection with the bombing.”
The report also stated that according to the source, it took another two days before Lobsang Dondup was publicly identified as a suspect, allegedly after a woman who saw him fleeing called the authorities. However, when the identity of the recipient (informer) of the reward was announced on April 24th, a male college student (identified as Zhang) collected 20,000 RMB reward. The student who was praised for providing crucial clues was reported to be present near the site when the explosion occurred, the Xinhua reported.
The HRW report also quoted a Xinhua’s report of Lobsang Dondup’s arrest just 10 hours after the blast which conflicts with official reports of capturing him at the site at the time of the explosion. However, a number of Tibetans told Human Rights Watch that neither of the official versions was accurate. They claimed that Lobsang Dondup was not arrested on the day of the blast.
Chinese accusation of Lobsang Dondup having hand-written pro-independent leaflet was also questioned by HRW as it had learned that Lobsang Dondup was illiterate and could not write his name. A deformed hand is suspected to have further compromised his ability to write. The later accusation of finding pro-independent leaflets at the site of the explosion was also not mentioned in the initial official reports of the blast.
According to Chinese official statements, Lobsang Dondup was convicted on the basis of his confession. However, witnesses stated that Lobsang Dondup had repudiated the charges during the closed trial.
A petition dated 15 July 2009 and signed by over 30,000 Tibetans in Nagchuka area confirmed that Lobsang Dondup had confided to a fellow Tibetan prisoner and relatives that he was framed and that he had made no such confession or had never implicated Tenzin Delek in the bomb blast incidence. Besides, no record of Lobsang Dondup’s alleged confession has been made available by Chinese authorities.
HRW in its report further proved the descripancies behind the judicial murder of Lobsang Dhondup. The report notes: “Although many informants reported that Chinese officials with whom they worked and local television sources all said that Lobsang Dondhup “confessed immediately,” another official told Human Rights Watch that he initially refused to speak to the police on the grounds that he could not speak Chinese and that it was not until he was moved from a Chengdu facility to one in Dartsedo that he “confessed” and allegedly implicated Tenzin Delek.”
The haste with which Lobsang Dhondup was executed (unprecedented in any anti-terror measures the world over) is only indicative of the seriousness of the authorities to implicate Trulku Tenzin Delek and to deny him any chances of fair retrial.
US Congressional Executive Commission on China in its detailed report titled, “The Execution of Lobsang Dondhub and the Case against Tenzin Deleg: the Law, the Courts, and the Debate on Legality”, questioned the legality of the arrest and execution of Lobsang Dondhup and pointed out that China’s handling of Lobsang Dondhub’s case was carried out in a manner which may have violated even the laws of the People’s Republic of China.
The report stressing on the legal procedure asserts that in accordance with the PRC Criminal Procedure Law, Article 48 and Articles 199 and 202, death sentences are to be approved by the Supreme People's Court.
The US Congressional Committee on China also believed that, “Unofficial reports contend that the real complaint PRC authorities have against Tenzin Deleg may be his years of religious and social activism, and his stubborn devotion to the Dalai Lama. One piece of evidence that supports this contention is that, even though Lobsang Dondrub was accused of copying pro-independence leaflets and scattering them at each blast site, Tenzin Deleg’s sentence for “incitement to split the country” was the longer of the two, 14 years as compared to 12.”
When the Chinese officials realised the international attention and pressure rising on the cases against Lobsang Dhondup and Tulku Tenzin Deleg, the fear that their lies and their unlawful judicial decisions might get uncovered before the entire world, they summarily executed Lobsang Dondhup. This despite China’s assurances to a US government delegation headed by Lorne Craner, Asst Secretary for Democracy, Human rights and Labour, Asst Attorney-General Ralph Boyd, Ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom John Hanford that the Supreme People’s Court would undertake a “lengthy” judicial review of Lobsang Dondhub’s death sentence.
The Tibetan freedom movement has been overwhelmingly non-violent, especially after the conclusion of the 25 years war of independence in the late 70s' and this was the first case since the post-Mao era in which Tibetans were convicted of separatism as well as bombing. Based on conversations with provincial officials, it is clear that the PRC government is trying to equate separatism and terrorism.
Defending the execution of Lobsang Dondhup as an anti-terrorist measure, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue, told CNN on January 28, 2003, that “[O]ur judicial department would deal with terrorists using bombs or any other person posing a security risk in the same manner as any other country.”
While Lobsang Dhondhup’s execution revealed China’s new strategy to internationalize the non-violent struggle of six million Tibetans as an “act of terrorism”, the vicious strategy to counter Tibetan aspirations also increased fear over China blurring the distinction between the global campaign against terrorism and domestic freedom struggles.
China’s desperation to equate separatism and terrorism was fittingly confronted at the UN debates by the British Amabassodor to UN during the post 2001 event. In an article titled, “Resettling Uyghurs no easy task” by Ian Williams in Asia times, dated Jun 17, 2009, Mr. Ian quotes, “In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, when the UN Security Council was setting up its anti-terrorism committee, China's ambassador kept trying to add "and secessionist activities", to its remit. The other members were politely overlooking him until he persisted and demanded to know why he was being ignored and the British ambassador, looking over his shoulder at Welsh and Scottish nationalist parties back home, told him firmly, "Because secessionist activities are not against international law, or the domestic law of many members." The arrest and sentencing of Tulku Tenzin Delek
On 7th April 2002, four days after the Tianfu blast and the subsequent arrest of Lobsang Dondhup, the Public Security Bureau of Ganze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Sichuan arrested Tulku Tenzin Delek or Ahan Zhaxi (Pinyin transliteration of Ngawang Tashi) in connection with the incident. Tenzin Delek is a popular and respected Tibetan Lama who is known in large areas of Kham for his great religious, social and cultural services and contributions.
On December 2, 2002, the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan province sentenced Tenzin Delek Rinpoche to death. Tenzin Delek, charged with “causing explosions and inciting the separation of the state” was granted a two-year suspension of his death sentence. On 26th January 2005, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was imprisoned for a greater part in Chuandong No.3 Prison, in Dazu county and later reported to be shifted to Mianyang Prison in Sichuan Province. Tulku Tenzin Delek is believed to have suffered severe torture and his health is in serious condition.
All through the arrest, indictment and the trial, Chinese officials failed to open Tenzin Delek’s case to public scrutiny and also refused to release the court’s verdict or any of the so-called evidence. They even refused to permit lawyers arranged by his family to defend him. The most gnawing ploy the Chinese officials used in the case against Tenzin Delek was to indict Tenzin Delek Rinpoche based solely on the so-called confession by his distant relative Lobsang Dondhup who they summarily executed.
Various human rights groups including United Nations human rights experts and various parliamentarians, Chinese writers and scholars, the Tibetan Government and Tibetans in exile and in Tibet especially in Kham area condemned the Chinese indictment of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. They protested that the case against Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was seriously flawed and that he did not receive a fair trial. Continuous calls for the unconditional retrial and release of Tenzin Delek are still being made.
The Human Rights Watch report, “Trials of a Tibetan Monk,” released in February 2004, specifies that the Chinese officials perceived Tenzin Delek as a threat to their authority because of the mass Tibetan following and loyality that he enjoyed.
According to Human Rights Watch, "For more than 10 years, Tenzin Delek struggled to develop social, medical, educational and religious institutions for the impoverished nomadic Tibetan communities in Sichuan province. He also worked to preserve the area’s fragile ecological balance in the face of unbridled logging and mining activities.
In a secret confession written by Tenzin Delek which was smuggled out of his prison cell, Tenzin Delek clarified that "Since I am a Tibetan, I have always been sincere and devoted to the interests and well-being of Tibetan people. That is the real reason why the Chinese do not like me and framed me. That is why they are going to take my precious life even though I am innocent."
On 14 December 2003, Wang Lixiong, a prominent Chinese writer along with twenty-four Chinese intellectuals and experts, submitted a letter of appeal to National People’s Congress, Supreme People’s Court, and Sichuan Higher People’s Court for reversal of death sentences on Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Lobsang Dhondup.
In his testimony to the TCHRD, Loche Drime, a senior disciple of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who fled Tibet after Rinpoche’s arrest vouched for Tenzin Delek’s innocence and China’s ulterior designs to destroy his social and cultural contribution to the Tibetan people in the region. He testified, "Our teacher Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a champion of people's cause. He was a great social activist. For his social services he often clashed with local Chinese authorities who view him as a challenge to their authority. Trulku has often been a target of their resentment. Trulku went into hiding in the mountains twice because of imminent arrest on account of his social services.”
While condemning Chinese indictment, Loche Drime challenged, "It is totally false to say that the Trulku Tenzin Delek was behind the series of bomb blast that occurred in April 2002. It is a fabricated accusation against Trulku and the other four arrested. Trulku is an icon of the preserver of Tibetan culture and identity. He is an embodiment of all the living Gods. He is highly revered for his social works. With his continuous efforts to preserve the Tibetan culture through every means, he has achieved tremendous within a short period. People loved and respected Trulku for his beneficial works. He is savoir of the Tibetan people, and a baseless cruel allegation meted out and subsequent sentencing is a direct assault on the Tibetan people.Tulku Tenzin Delek and Lobsang Dhondup are not guilty by any means of law. The Chinese do not wish to see the flourishing of Tibetan culture. They thought Trulku was challenging their authority. That's why they were targeted. Otherwise there is no other apparent reason for the authorities to arrest him."
The popularity of the Tulku Tenzin Delek enjoyed was demonstrated by the people of Nyakchukha, Lithang, Golog, Thang karma and Othok etc through a series of demonstrations, petitions and long-life religious offerings to him before and after his arrest.
The event has left little doubt over China’s attempt to use the global campaign against ‘terrorism’ to suppress the Tibetans’ peaceful political and religious expressions. It has also exposed China’s true intentions despite the show of bonhomie with western governments when dealing with the issues of human rights.Yet another Terrorist Lama?
Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche aka Buramna Rinpoche, head of the Pangri and Yatseg nunneries in Kardze prefecture in Sichuan province was arrested on May 18, 2008, for alleged possession of weapons (a rifle, a pistol and more than 100 rounds of varied ammunition) and was tried in the Kangding County People’s Court on April 21, 2009. During the trial, Rinpoche denied the allegations, arguing in particular that the weapons and ammunition found at his home had been planted there by the Chinese security forces to frame him and that he was forced to make confession regarding the crime.
Buramna Rinpoche’s arrest came just four days after the nuns from his nunnery staged a peaceful demonstration protesting the government’s further crackdown on religious freedom following the widespread March 2008 uprising.
Rinpoche’s Beijing based well-known human rights lawyers, Li Fangping and Jiang Tianyong, later told Gillian Wong and Christopher Bodeen of The Associated Press on April 22, 2009, that Rinpoche denied the allegations and was forced into making a confession after a police interrogation that lasted four days and threats that his wife and son would be detained if he did not comply.
Furthermore, Mr Li Fangping asserted that "the charge is untenable," and that the "police didn't enquire the source of the weapons or check for fingerprints."
Ms Woeser, a popular Tibetan writer and poet based in Beijing, quoted in her article, “Justice denied for Tibetans” in Wall Streets Journal Asia dated 27th April 2009, that Li Fangping complained that the Chinese officials “allowed only limited access to their client before trial and they were not allowed to access all the court documents related to the case, which limited their ability to cross-examine witnesses. Woeser noted their argument that the monk's living room was a public place that saw a large number of people coming and going, and that anyone could have hidden the weapons there.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its statement titled, “Prosecution of Tibetan Religious Leader Flawed, Politically Motivated” on 30 April 2009 reported that “Phurbu's lawyers' defense statement raises a number of critical inconsistencies in the prosecution's case, ranging from basic facts about the model of the gun and the type and quantity of ammunition discovered to the failure to conduct any investigation about their provenance or interview a potentially exculpatory witness. The lawyers also highlighted procedural violations in their efforts to represent Phurbu, such as restrictions on the access to the evidence against their client, including key depositions, and repeated interference with the right to visit their client by the detention center authorities.”
HRW further proposed that the “Chinese court should reject criminal charges against a Tibetan religious leader because his rights as a criminal defendant suffered repeated infringements and raised the possibility that the charges against him were unsubstantiated and politically motivated.”
The International Campaign for Tibet, an activist group, has described Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche as a "deeply respected local figure known for his work in the community" — including the building of a center for the aged and two clinics — whose detention has aroused deep resentment among local Tibetans.
Despite the total lack of concrete evidence, China sentenced Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche to 8 years imprisonment in violation of all criminal and judicial laws.Dragon Spits the fire of Terrorism
As discussed earlier in the Introduction, China has intensified its efforts at labeling the Tibetan freedom movement as an act of terrorism, even going to the extent of staging murders and bomb attacks to win over public sentiment and support over the heavy-handed treatment of Tibetans.
No doubt these terrorist incidents were meticulously planned, coordinated and staged but those were not without their flaws. The entire incidents including the ones in TAR as well as in Tibetan regions now incorporated into other Chinese provinces reveal that the attempts were flawed and fabricated. Most importantly, the attempts at indicting the Tibetans were not substantiated by proper proof and evidence.
The bomb blasts were mostly without any culprits being caught and without hard evidence. They were mostly carried out in suspicious and dubious circumstances. Although the concerned authorities alleged that Tibetans were behind the bomb-blasts or killings but most of the time the authorities made veiled attacks and usually skipped making a clear statement or issuing a press release. Producing hard evidence is a far cry. Let us assess some of these vicious Chinese campaigns of “Terrorism” against the Tibetans. “Tibetan Terrorists killed Chinese soldiers in Chongqing”
One of the most vicious and widespread campaign against Tibetans as terrorist happened in March 2009 when several Chinese soldiers were killed in Chongqing city over a span of several weeks. Right after the killing, the press and government officials labeled the killings as Terrorist attacks perpetrated by Tibetans. The victims of the killings were mostly young soldiers and the “terrorist” incidencts were termed as serious crime, leading to the imposition of curfew and a tight security blanket in the city. The Government and the media, even before the investigations were concluded blamed Tibetans.
The intriguing evidence behind the authorities’ implication of Tibetan involvement was the Government’s claim of mobile phone text messages that was circulated around a week before the Chongqing incidence saying, “Tibetan Independence organization’s human flesh bomb is secretly penetrating into Chongqing.” The messages further read, "A number of Tibetan separatists had snuck into town from (nearby) Chengdu and were attempting to stage a bombing in downtown Chongqing".
On 17th March 2009, China Daily reported the shooting of an 18 year old soldier, Han Junliang while on duty outside army barracks in the city of Chongqing in southwest China. He was reportedly shot twice in the chest on 12th March by an unidentified man. The source told the paper that the attacker's face was not clearly visible on images captured by surveillance cameras. A description of the suspect said he was "dark skinned."
The China Daily also reported that the assailant first fired in the air and then walked up to the soldier, shot him twice and escaped with his assault rifle. Quoting an unnamed police source, it said that preliminary investigations suggested the killer might be Tibetan.
While reporting the Chongqing Government’s announcement of a reward of a 300,000-yuan (44,000-dollar) reward for anyone able to help arrest the suspect, the paper, without any specific evidence and witnesses, further claimed that a number of Tibetan separatists had snuck into town from (nearby) Chengdu and were attempting to stage a bombing in downtown Chongqing.
Singapore’s Zaobao.com in its report on the killing went on to declare that the assailant was a Tibetan.
All these allegations and concoctions were flying around, while the on the site Chinese official named one Mr Ma had told the Beijing based AFP in its report titled, “China makes door-to-door hunt for killer” that, “We don't have any further information and cannot confirm the identity of the suspect”.
Few days after the first killing, state media on 20th March reported that two more Chinese soldiers in Chongqing City were shot dead. The shooting incidence was listed as a “Terrorist attack” by the local authorities and reportedly occurred in the 17th corps in a building materials market near the Shiqiaopu area in Chongqing around 7 p.m. on March 19. One sentry was killed, another was injured and one type 81-1 semi-automatic rifle was stolen.
After the killing, in order to seal the charges on Tibetans, reports by news media especially Singtaonet.com and Xhxb.net claimed that the assailant had a knife strapped on his back, wore a mask and carried a gun, and had very dark skin.
The descriptions provided by the “witnesses and the officials” unscrupulously targeted Tibetans as Tibetans customarily carry a knife around their waist.
However, on 22nd March 2009, the authenticity of the Chinese allegations of Tibetan involvement in these ‘terrorist’ killings was fittingly refuted by Epoch times reporter Tian Yu in an article titled, “Who Attacked the Soldiers in Chongqing City? And will this become an excuse to justify the Chinese regime’s crackdown on Tibetans?”
Mr. Tian Yu challenged the charges by rationalizing that “the weather of Chongqing is still quite cold in March and the assailant should not have worn a short-sleeve T-shirt and thus bared his arms. If the assailant indeed wore a mask, it would have been hard to tell his skin color. Therefore, the identity and motive of the person who claimed that “the assailant had very dark skin” is questionable.” Mr. Tian further questioned the rational of carrying a knife when the victim was actually shot with the gun and stated why the attacker would carry a knife on his back to attract people’s attention.
Likewise, on 27th March 2009, another killing of a soldier was reported from Beijing by the Reuters in a report titled, “Second soldier attacked in southwest China” quoting Hong Kong based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. The report stated that a Chinese soldier was stabbed while on guard outside an army camp in Leshan on Thursday 26th and also mentioned the place’s closeness to Tibet.
An AFP report on the stabbing of an unnamed police official suggested that the stabbing might be connected to Tibetans and that “if the two attacks are linked they are definitely terrorist attacks”. The police official who was interviewed gave no further details or evidence.
But the interesting part of the report is that killer is claimed to have escaped despite a manhunt involving more than 2,000 police personnels. Later, when the AFP reporters called the local government offices and the police for follow-up on the case, their calls went unanswered. The lack of seriousness in investigating these cases by the Chinese officials is a stark pointer to their underlying deception and schemes to stigmatize the Tibetans without concrete evidence and witnesses. TNT Bombs and the Bomb Attacks?
China has ever since the 1980s and 90s, alleged Tibetans of using bombs as a violent means of freedom struggle, ofcourse, all without evidence and details.
In the recent years, it repeated the same tactics to defame the Tibetan’s peaceful struggle for freedom. On 9th March 2009, Xinhua News Agency reported that two home-made bombs exploded in the Tibetan area of Golok the previous day. The report further stated that two vehicles including a police car were damaged in the blasts, however no casualties were reported. The explosions reportedly took place after police and local people clashed.
However, the report was neither backed by any independent eyewitness nor by any credible evidence to verify the incidence.
On 17th March, AP and AFP reported of a bomb being lobbed at a Police Station in Bathang County in the ethnic Tibetan province of Sichuan. Liu Xiaojun, a police official was quoted as saying that the explosion simply shattered windows at the station without causing any injuries.
Once again the state-run China Daily newspaper blamed Tibetan "terrorists" for the blast without providing any details.
On 18th March, 2009, Reuter’s Beijing based reporter Chris Buckley reported that the People's Armed Police had claimed of finding of a case packed with TNT bombs in Tibet’s capital Lhasa. It stated that ‘one day in early spring paramilitary patrolling Lhasa's railway station came across an abandoned pink suitcase packed with TNT bomb’.
The report that claimed to have followed the clues and clamped down on an illegal organization threatening Tibet's security, failed to specify not only how big the case was but also the exact date of the incident. It also did not provide any details on identity of the people involved.
Most surprisingly, AP stated that when questioned about the incidents, a spokesman for the Tibet Autonomous Region government denied the report. Gun Battle by Tibetan Terrorist?
According to Xinhua News Agency on 30th April 2008, a Tibetan independence “insurgent” was shot dead by police in a “gun battle” in the North-West region of China. The report also claimed the death of a Tibetan police officer called Lama Cedain.
However, a day earlier on 29 April, 2008, TCHRD, a prominent Tibetan Human Rights Group, issued a press release providing greater detail on the alleged gun battle. The release titled, “A Tibetan nomad shot dead in Amdo Golog, hundreds arrested” reported that a 22-year-old Tibetan monk named Choetop was shot dead in a nomadic hamlet in Ponkor Toema Township following indiscriminate shooting by Chinese security forces.
TCHRD stated that on 21 March 2008, over several hundred Tibetans in Ponkor Township staged a peaceful protest in Darlag County, Golog "TAP", Qinghai Province. During the protests that continued for several days, the protestors pulled down a Chinese national flag hoisted on a government building and replaced it with the banned Tibetan national flag. In the ensuing tension, over 50 military vehicles and security forces numbering over a thousand arrived in Darlag County to quell the peaceful protesters.
In the following days, security forces arrested several hundred Tibetans. Many of the protestors who were later released from the detention were charged with hefty fines of 20,000 Chinese yuan as a punishment (US $ 2,500). In the backdrop of persistent arrest threats and intimidation by the Chinese security forces, around 400 Tibetans from Ponkor Toema and 100 Tibetans from Ponkor Mema Townships fled and sought hide outs on the nearby mountain tops on 26 March 2008. In response, around 860 Chinese security forces surrounded the mountain.
TCHRD report further stated that, “On 28 April 2008, events took a dramatic turn when the armed Chinese security forces surrounded a nomadic hamlet in Ponkor Toema Township. At dawn, the armed security forces fired live ammunition on the nomads. Moments later, 22-year-old nomad Choetop was killed during the gun fire. The Chinese security forces took the dead body with them and refused to return the body for funeral rites.”
The Xinhua report made wild claims that "After a month-long investigation, the police moved on Monday to arrest the suspected leader. The suspect resisted arrest and gunfire broke out." That the protest started barely a week ago on 21st April refute the very Chinese claim of “month-long investigation”. Besides as usual, the Chinese reports offered few details of the specifics of the shootout. 3 dead in Indian Tibet Bomb?
In April 2008, during the massive Uprisings in Tibet, a powerful bomb explosion ripped through the north-eastern Indian city of Siliguri, killing three people. BBC came out with a hasty report on the bomb blast titled, “Three dead in Indian 'Tibet' bomb” on April 2. The report also quoted a police chief saying that the dead although not yet identified could be Tibetans as the room was believed to be rented by a Tibetan exile. The report further mentioned recovering a large quantity of explosives and detonators and timers from the site.
Instantly, the report was flashed in various international media without further verification. The report went to serve as the long-awaited proof of Tibetan terrorism for the Chinese media as they went on a spree to squeeze every mileage out of the incident. For several weeks, news reports and articles in the Chinese media and chat rooms were filled with assertions of Tibetan involvement in Terrorism.
Just a few days after the blast, the reality of the incidence came into open. The police and investigating agencies confirmed that the people involved in the blast were not Tibetans but insurgents from the North-Eastern States of India.
On 5th April 2008, Pinak Priya Bhattacharya of TNN-The Times of India, in a report titled, “Three held for Siliguri blast” stated that the three persons namely Dipan Rai, Karma Bahadur Rai and Phurba Tamang, who were arrested in connection with the blast at Champasari in Siliguri claimed that they were Bhutanese refugees living in the UN-sponsored camps at Bendangi-I in eastern Nepal.”
The Police, on interrogation, learned that the explosives belonged to Bhutan Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist), which planned to carry out sabotage operations in Bhutan. The three persons who died in the blast-Lakpa Dorji, Kanchan Tamang and Pushpa Rai- were also from the Bhutanese refugee camp.
On April 04, 2008, The Telegraph in its report titled, “Terror link ‘hurts’ evicted Nepalese” quoted Mr Balaram Poudyal, President of Bhutan People’s Party (BPP) from Birtamore in Eastern Nepal, saying, “We are shocked and deeply hurt that some youths from our camps have been found to have links with extremist outfits.”Why China allows illegal sale of guns in Tibet?
New developments inside Tibet has defied all logic and reasoning behind China’s branding of Tibetans as terrorists. Woeser, the Beijing based Tibetan writer reported on the widespread mini-advertisements on gun-sale in Tibet in an article titled, “The sudden appearance of Advertisements for sale of Guns all over Tibet is not Joke”. Woeser, in her article expresses shock on finding the wide scale prevalence of mini-ads on gun sales despite Chinese branding the Tibetans as Terrorists, resulting in the ban on guns and alleged confiscations of thousands of guns and swords from the Tibetans by the Chinese security official.
Assessing the impacts of Chinese propaganda on Tibet and the reasons for the sudden spring of such advertisment, Ms Woeser writes, “After the “Incident of March 14”, all official media, from Beijing to the various regions in China, exaggerated in the extreme incidents of “beating, smashing, robbing and burning” in Lhasa and other regions in Tibet by continuously claiming that they had “hunted down and seized” batches and batches of “firearms and ammunition” in many monasteries and tried their best to create evidence that Tibetans had become “terrorists”. As a result, this not only caused people in inland China to change their attitude when talking about “Tibet” but also many mini-advertisements in Amdo, U-tsang and Kham (traditionally, Tibet includes Amdo, U-Tsang, Kham and other regions) have quietly appeared overnight, the content of which is unexpectedly about the sale of real firearms and ammunition.”
She further wondered, “It is said that these are all mini-advertisements put up by gun dealers from all over China. Since they (Tibetans) are “terrorists,” there will be demand for firearms and ammunition. The gun dealers believe the propaganda of the authorities that Tibetans are “terrorists”, to the contrary, they hold that it is just the perfect business opportunity they wished for, thereupon, they have travelled a great distance to come to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, where the sky is high and the rivers are long, and have sent out information about supplying firearms to the ubiquitous Tibetan terrorists by putting up mini-advertisements everywhere randomly.”
Ms Woeser was more shocked to find that even the security officers were indifferent about the ads which finally prompted her to warn them that such brazen sale of guns at knockout drops was simply damaging the great stability of Tibet.
The indifferent attitude of the security officers towards these ads goes to show that either the Chinese Government has little fear of any violent retaliation from the peaceful Tibetans or they want these ads as a proof of Tibetan Terrorism. Desperation for Evidence
As discussed at length, over the years, China has launched a multi-prong war against His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people and has left no stone unturned to frame Tibetans as terrorists. Besides the distorted propaganda and the staging of violent riots, murder, shoot-outs and bombings to incriminate the Tibetans, China has sent spies and agent provocateurs to plant and fabricate evidence of Tibetan terrorism.
According to TibetInfoNet report titled, “Chasing shadows in Dharamsala” dated 20 January 2009, a Chinese spy who was on a secret mission to produce and fabricate evidence to ‘expose’ Tibetan terrorists was arrested by Indian security agency in Dharamsala, the hilly town where the Tibetan Government is based. The Chinese national, Lei Xun, was arrested in December 2008 in Dharamsala for spying and acting as an agent provocateur.
A thorough investigation of the case by TibetInfoNet revealed persistent, albeit unsuccessful, and at times clumsy, efforts by the spy to produce or, if need be, fabricate evidence that would ‘expose’ the Dalai Lama as the mastermind behind the unrest in Tibet in 2008 and the so-called Tibetan plan to sabotage Olympics games through a terrorist attack.
TibetInfoNet report stated that Mr Lei Xun was initially assigned the task of identifying purported underground Tibetan exile networks in Lhasa and gather information on the planning and execution of violent activities inside Tibet by TAR Public Security Bureau (PSB)’s Domestic Security Division. However, when Mr Lei’s task in Lhasa proved unsuccessful, he was sent to Dharamsala for more detailed information of “Tibetan Terrorism”. Despite making several trips to Dharamsala and also having succeeded in securing an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Mr Lei Xun was totally unsuccessful in realizing his chief purpose of finding evidence against Tibetans.
In his four different visits to Dharamsala, Mr Lei Xun made all-out efforts to extract information regarding Tibetan sponsorship of Terrorist campaign inside Tibet and China; however his efforts met with utter failure.
From faking of being an ardent Buddhist devotee and threatening to commit suicide if he did not receive funds from Dalai Lama to build schools and charitable organizations for the welfare of the Tibetan children in Tibet; an apparent move to fabricate Dalai Lama’s involvement in financing covert operations in Tibet, Lei undertook more direct attempts to entwine members of the Dalai Lama's entourage in subversive schemes that involved violence by seeking their support in the formation of a Terrorist Organization that would assassinate Hu Jintao and also destroy the Qinghai-Tibet railway in a bomb attack. When all attempts yielded no result and Tibetans instead discouraged him to dissociate from violence, Mr. Lei finally, in a desperate move to salvage his mission confessed to the Tibetan official that he was on a special assignment for the Chinese government and needed some "important information" and urged for his support in the same.
The TibetInfoNet report says that Mr Lei Xun was unmasked soon thereafter and taken into police custody, before appearing in court on 22 December 2008 and held on remand.A Reality Check on Tibetan Terrorism by an American teacher in China
Robert Vance, a longtime American English teacher based in China, who heads The China Teaching Web, elaborates on the misconceptions the Chinese harbor against the Tibetans in his blog titled, “The American and the Tibetan Terrorists in China” on 5th July 2008. Robert in his blog recounts that one of his Chinese students remarked that when he first heard about the explosion on the bus in Shanghai, he immediately thought it was America or some terrorists from Tibet trying to attack Chinese. Mr Robert explains, “The explosion, which claimed the lives of three people in Shanghai on Monday, is reported to have been caused by flammable products brought on board by a passenger. As of yet, the Shanghai government and the police officials investigating the case have not ruled out terrorism which has prompted some of my students and friends to engage in seemingly wishful thinking that terrorism was involved in the tragedy.”
He further wrote, “I am not surprised to hear Chinese people suggest that America was somehow involved with the explosion. After having lived abroad for so long, I am accustomed to people making wild accusations against my country. I do not take such comments personally especially knowing that they are fueled by a Chinese government that wants its people to think that the whole world is against them. However, I was a little taken aback by my students’ and friends’ harsh comments about their ‘fellow’ Tibetans. Until recently, the label that I had heard most frequently applied to the Tibetan protesters was ‘separatists.’ The word ‘terrorists,’ my students now explain to me, can be also applied to the Tibetans involved in the March uprisings because of the ‘coordinated’ protests and the 5 girls who died in Lhasa after their shop was set on fire. Some of my students also said that they considered the label appropriate because of a March hijacking of a plane in Xinjiang province.
“However, whatever my friends and students said about the fire in Lhasa is true. There were five young ladies who died horribly in a fire that was reportedly set by Tibetan protestors. Assuming that the fire was set by Tibetans; can they really be labeled as terrorists for their actions? There is no doubt that the actions of the mob resulted in the horrific loss of innocent lives but I am not convinced that the Tibetan protestors intended to kill anyone. There is also nothing in news reports to suggest that the protestors knew that there were people inside the shop when they set it on fire. Is this any excuse for their actions? No. They killed people. They should be punished; they have been punished. To suggest, however, that the people who took part in the riots are terrorists because of this tragic fire is ludicrous. These acts of violence were not premeditated; they were reactions that occurred ‘on the spur of the moment.’
“Anyone who has travelled in the beautiful province of Tibet knows that the Tibetans are peace loving people. None of my friends or students has ever visited the region. The only information that they have about the remote province is what they hear and see from the state owned media. It is shameful the way that Tibetan people are being ‘insulted’ in the rest of China. They have always been looked down upon; now they are being called terrorists? It is no wonder that they seek more autonomy (and in some cases independence) from a country that tramples on their culture and makes little attempts to listen and understand their needs.” Explains Mr Robert.
Part II ...The Conclusion...coming soon....
The writer is a former Vice President of Tibetan Youth Congress (CENTREX), the largest Non-Governmental Tibetan Independence Movement in Exile and presently resides in Bylakuppe Tibetan Refugee Settlement in South India as an Independent Researcher, Activist and a Social worker. He can be reached at -firstname.lastname@example.orgThe views expressed in this piece are that of the author and the publication of the piece on this website does not necessarily reflect their endorsement by the website.