Monday, March 09, 2009

March 10th marks 50th anniversary of Tibetan uprising against Chinese

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) invaded and seized control of Tibet in late 1949. Approximately half of Tibet was incorporated into surrounding Chinese provinces in 1950 and the remaining country was formally annexed by the PRC in 1951. An uprising by Tibetans against the Chinese occupation began in 1956 and spread until it was finally crushed in 1959. Tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed and the Dalai Lama fled to exile in India along with an estimated 80,000 refugees. During the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s, the Chinese Red Guard conducted a campaign to destroy Tibetan cultural sites. During this period an estimated 6,500 Buddhist Monasteries were destroyed and only a few of those left standing were not vandalized. Opposition to Chinese rule flares up from time to time and is always brutally suppressed.

March 10th 2009 will mark the fiftieth anniversary since Tibetans rose up to protest China's invasion of their homeland and the Dalai Lama's flight into exile in India in 1959. It will also be one year since unprecedented protests broke out across Tibet showing China and the world that after 50 years of occupation the Tibetan people still yearn for their independence.

Despite the brave protests, the cultural annihilation of Tibet continues. The Chinese have exported into Tibet not only their goods and materials but people. The majority of those living in Lhasa are not longer Tibetan but Chinese. Chinese has become the official language replacing the Tibetan dialects. Only in the rural areas of Tibet do the natives maintain a majority but, as Ian Buruma pointed out, Tibetan culture and language in rural areas is no more likely to survive Chinese modernization than that of the Apaches in the U.S.

Still the struggle continues with groups like Students for a Free Tibet, the International Campaign for Tibet, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, and others.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule is marked by the presence of the Chinese army. The recent upsurge in the last year just goes to show that the Tibetans are still fighting for their freedom. Should the world leaders step into solve this situation? Is it morally correct on the part of the Chinese government? Share your views with us at