Tibet, History and the CIA
By Gary Wilson
Has Tibet become the front line of a new national liberation struggle? Or is something else happening there?
The U.S. news media are filled with stories about events unfolding in Tibet. Each news report, however, seems to include a note that much of what they are reporting cannot be confirmed. The sources of the reports are shadowy and unknown. If past practice is any indicator, it is likely that the U.S. State Department and the CIA are their primary sources.
One frequently quoted source is John Ackerly. Who is Ackerly? As president of the International Campaign for Tibet, he and his group appear to work closely with the U.S. government, both the State Department and Congress, as part of its operations concerning Tibet. During the Cold War, Ackerly's Washington-based job was to work with "dissidents" in Eastern Europe, particularly Romania in 1978-80.
A private international security agency in Washington, Harbor Lane Associates, lists Ackerly and the International Campaign for Tibet as its clients, along with former CIA Director and U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former Pentagon chief William Cohen.
AP, Reuters and the other Western news agencies all quote Ackerly as a major source for exaggerated reports about the clashes that have just occurred in Tibet. For example, MSNBC on March 15 reported:
"John Ackerly, of the International Campaign for Tibet, a group that supports demands for Tibetan autonomy, said in an e-mailed statement he feared 'hundreds of Tibetans have been arrested and are being interrogated and tortured.'"
Qiangba Puncog, a Tibetan who is chair of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, described the situation quite differently at a March 17 press briefing in Beijing.
According to china.org.cn, China's state Web site, the Tibetan leader said that allies of the exiled Dalai Lama on March 14 "engaged in reckless beating, looting, smashing and burning and their activities soon spread to other parts of the city. These people focused on street-side shops, primary and middle schools, hospitals, banks, power and communications facilities and media organizations. They set fire to passing vehicles, they chased after and beat passengers on the street, and they launched assaults on shops, telecommunication service outlets and government buildings. Their behavior has caused severe damage to the life and property of local people, and seriously undermined law and order in Lhasa.
"'Thirteen innocent civilians were burned or stabbed to death in the riot in Lhasa on March 14, and 61 police were injured, six of them seriously wounded,' said Qiangba Puncog.
"Statistics also show that rioters set fire to more than 300 locations, including residential houses and 214 shops, and smashed and burned 56 vehicles. ...
"Qiangba Puncog also claimed that security personnel did not carry or use any lethal weapons in dealing with the riot last Friday. ...
"The violence was the result of a conspiracy between domestic and overseas groups that advocate 'Tibet independence, ' according to Qiangba Puncog. 'The Dalai clique masterminded, planned and carefully organized the riot.'
"According to Qiangba Puncog, on March 10, 49 years ago, the slave owners of old Tibet launched an armed rebellion aimed at splitting the country. That rebellion was quickly quelled. Every year since 1959, some separatists inside and outside China have held activities around the day of the rebellion. ...
"Any secessionist attempt to sabotage Tibet's stability will not gain people's support and is doomed to fail, he said."
Meeting in New Delhi
Whatever is taking place in Tibet has long been in preparation. A conference was held in New Delhi, India, last June by "Friends of Tibet." It was described as a conference for the breakaway of Tibet.
The news site phayul.com reported at the time that the conference was told "how the Olympics could provide the one chance for Tibetans to come out and protest." A call was issued for worldwide protests, a march of exiles from India to Tibet, and protests within Tibet--all tied to the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
This was followed by a call this past January for an "uprising" in Tibet, issued by organizations based in India. The news report from Jan. 25 said that the "Tibetan People's Uprising Movement" was established Jan. 4 to focus on the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The beginning date for the "uprising" was to be March 10.
At the time the call was issued, U.S. Ambassador to India David Mulford was meeting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. U.S. Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky made a similar visit to Dharamsala last November. Dobriansky is also a member of the neocon Project for a New American Century. She has been involved in the so-called color revolutions in Eastern Europe.
Phayul.com reports that the Tibet "Uprising" group's statement says they are acting "in the spirit of the 1959 Uprising."
The 1959 uprising
Knowing more about the 1959 "uprising" might help in understanding today's events in Tibet.
In 2002 a book titled "The CIA's Secret War in Tibet" was published by the University Press of Kansas. The two authors--Kenneth Conboy of the Heritage Foundation and James Morrison, an Army veteran trainer for the CIA--proudly detail how the CIA set up and ran Tibet's so-called resistance movement. The Dalai Lama himself was on the CIA payroll and approved the CIA's plans for the armed uprising.
The CIA put the Dalai Lama's brother, Gyalo Thodup, in charge of the bloody 1959 armed attack. A contra army was trained by the CIA in Colorado and then dropped by U.S. Air Force planes into Tibet.
The 1959 attack was a CIA planned and organized coup attempt, much like the later Bay of Pigs invasion of socialist Cuba. The purpose was to overthrow the existing Tibetan government and weaken the Chinese Revolution while tying the people of Tibet to U.S. imperialist interests. What does that say about today's March uprising, that's done in the same spirit?