historical / November 28, 2016

The 1959 Tibetan Uprising

An uprising of the Tibetan population took  place in Lhasa on March 10, 1959. This event triggered the flight of the Dalai Lama and other dramatic consequences for the Tibetan nation and India

  • Talk between Nehru and the Dalai Lama in Mussorie (April 24, 1959)
    Talk with the Dalai Lama (Record of Prime Minister’s Meeting with the Dalai Lama on 24th April 1959 – 15:20 hours to 19:20 hours)
    After the usual greetings, Prime Minister enquired from the Dalai Lama whether he has had some rest after his hard journey. The Dalai Lama replied that he has had two days of rest after arriving in Mussoorie and felt much better…
  • United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Tibet – October 21, 1959
    United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Question of Tibet, 21 October 1959
    The General Assembly,
    Recalling the principles regarding fundamental human rights and freedoms set out in the Charter of the United Nations and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948, Considering that the fundamental human rights and freedoms to which the Tibetan people, like all others, are entitled include the right to civil and religious liberty for all without distinction…
  • Speech by Marshall Chu Teh – September 1959
    Speech by Chu Teh, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee at the closing session of the NPC Standing Committee, 13 September 1959
    The so-called MacMahon line is precisely a product of this British imperialist aggression against China’s Tibet… For the sake of upholding Sino-Indian friendship, Chine se troops and administrative personnel have never crossed this so-called MacMahon line, pending a settlement and delimitation of the boundary by the two governments. This good will and good intention of the Chinese Government, however, was not understood by the Indian Government.
  • Chinese Government statement at UN – 23 October
    Chinese Government statement on U N General Assembly Resolution on the Question of Tibet, 23 October 1959 (Extracts)
    Recently, the 14th session of the United Nations General Assembly unlawfully discussed the so-called “Tibet question” and adopted a resolution slandering the People’s Republic of China. This is another criminal act of the U. S. Government of pressganging the majority of the members of the United Nations to interfere crudely in China’s internal affairs and deliberately increasing international tension, in disregard of the opposition of the Soviet Union and many other states as well as world just public opinion. At this, the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the entire Chinese people are greatly indignant and express their strong protest. Tibet is China’s territory.
  • Resolution of the NPC Standing Committee – 13 September 1959
    On September 13, 1959, the Eighth Session of the Standing Committee of the Second National People’s Congress unanimously endorsed Premier Chou En-lai’s report on the Sino-Indian boundary question and fully approved the stand, attitude and policy adopted by the government in dealing with the Sino-Indian boundary question.
  • Nehru’s in Lok Sabha – 12 September 1959
    In Premier Chou En-lai’s last letter, he says:
    “In Your Excellency’s letter, you also referred to the boundary between China and Sikkim. Like the boundary between China and Bhutan, this question does not fall within the scope of our present discussion.” I beg to differ from Premier Chou En-lai.
  • Dalai Lama’s appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations – 9 September 1959
    Kindly refer to the proceedings of the General Committee of the United Nations General Assembly held on Friday the 24th November 1950 at which it was resolved that the consideration of El Salvador’s complaint against ’invasion of Tibet by foreign forces should be adjourned in order to give the parties the opportunity to arrive, at a peaceful settlement It is with the deepest regret that I am informing you that the act of aggression has been substantially extended with the result that practically the whole of Tibet is under the occupation of the Chinese Forces.
  • Jaya Prakash Narayan on Tibet – Statement from Patna, 27 March, 1959
    THE situation in Tibet must cause serious anxiety to all the peoples of Asia, particularly to us in India. The recent statement of the Prime Minister in Parliament is not likely to allay this anxiety.From the time Red China decided to gobble up Tibet, our policy in regard to it has been marked by prevarication.
  • Communiqué on the Revolt – March 28, 1959 (Xinhua)
    Violating the will of the Tibetan people and betraying the motherland. The Tibetan Local Government and the upper-strata reactionary clique colluded with imperialism assembled rebellious bandits and launched armed attacks against the PLA Garrison in Lhasa during the night of March 19. Acting on orders to put the rebellion down, the valiant units of the PLA stationed in Tibet completely smashed the rebellious bandits in the city of Lhasa on the 22nd…
  • Proclamation of the Tibet Military Command of the PLA – March 28, 1959 (Xinhua)
    For a long time the Tibet Local Government and the upper strata reactionary clique have plotted rebellion in collaboration with imperialists and reactionaries outside the country. For quite some time they have assembled rebellious bandits and connived at their ravages, destruction of communications, plunder of merchants and travellers, rape, and arson, and murder in various parts of Tibet, thereby inflicting suffering on the people.
  • Order of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China – March 28, 1959 (Xinhua)
    The following order is hereby proclaimed:
    Most of the Kaloons [ministers] of the Tibet Local Government and the upper-strata reactionary clique colluded with imperialism, assembled rebellious bandits, carried out rebellion, ravaged the people, put the Dalai Lama under duress, tore up the 17-article Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet and, on the night of March 19, directed the Tibetan local army and rebellious elements to launch a general offensive against the People’s Liberation Army Garrison in Lhasa…
  • Far Eastern Economic Review (SUPPLEMENT TIBET) April 8, 1959
    Most reports on the recent riots in Tibet agree that the unrest began with small protests against Beijing on March 10 in Lhasa. These protests commemorated the 49th anniversary of the failed uprising in March 1959. That year THE FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC REVIEW reported on the violence and ensuing Chinese crackdown that led to the Dalai Lama’s departure for India. Here are three articles from our archives that detail the events of March 1959, the ensuing crackdown and the tightening of Chinese control in Tibet over the following year.
  • BBC Audio Report on the Dalai Lama’s Arrival in Tezpur – April 1959
    In 1959 Charles Wheeler was the BBC’s South Asia correspondent. He covered the flight of the Dalai Lama from Tibet and his arrival in India. Almost fifty years on, and in this year where world attention has once again been drawn to the land of snows, Charles brings together four other journalists who reported on this remarkable story, and they remember the events which for the first time fully focussed the world’s attention on Tibet.
  • The Tezpur Press Statement – April 18, 1959
    Just after crossing the Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh and seeking refugee in India in April 1959, the Dalai Lama made an important statement in Tezpur, Assam. He related the events leading to his escape and denounced the 17-Point Agreement.
  • Chinese Reply to the Dalai Lama’s Tezpur Statement – April 1959
    The so-called Dalai Lama statement issued by the Indian diplomatic officials on April 18th in Tezpur is a poorly composed document which contains constrained arguments and is fraught with lies and loopholes. Disregarding the fact that China is a unified country formed by the Han, Mongolian and dozens of other nationalities, the statement begins by clamouring about the so-called independence of the Tibetan people.
  • Dr. Rammanohar Lohia: China’s Second Assault on Tibet – April 1959
    WHEN the ‘Baby Murder’ in Tibet took place nine years ago most of the people who today are raising a hue and cry over the second instalment of Chinese assault on the Tibetan people were, as far as I remember, silent. Something ought to have been done then, something ought to have been said. Which, however, does not mean that nothing should be said now.
  • Facts on the Khamba Rebellion – April 26, 1959 (Xinhua)
    In the so-called “statement of the Dalai Lama” of April 18, the “Khamba rebellion” was mentioned in an attempt to prove that the Central People’s Government had violated the 17-article Agreement on the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. But the so-called “Khamba rebellion” (Khamba is a Tibetan word) refers to the area around Kantse, Szechwan Province, in the eastern Sikang-Tibet Plateau, inhabited by the Tibetan minority nationality. The Sikang area was not even a part of Tibet. Formerly it was Sikang Province and later became part of Szechwan Province…
  • Foreign Press clippings – April 1959
    Open warfare against the Chinese Communist overlords of Tibet has broken out in Lhasa, according to official information reaching New Delhi. A spokesman for the Indian External Affairs Ministry confirmed reports that virtually the entire population of Lhasa had joined rebellious Khamba tribesmen in an unequal struggle against Chinese troops.
  • Debate in Parliament (Rajya Sabha) – May 4. 1959
    On 4 May 1959, the Rajya Sabha debated Tibet on the basis of a Motion for Adjournment moved by Dr. H.N. Kunzru, Independent. Initially there was a brief discussion on the admissibility of the Motion which was however allowed to be moved.
  • The Revolution in Tibet and Nehru’s Philosophy – The People’s Daily (6 May 1959)
    The war of rebellion unleashed by the handful of traitors in Tibet has in the main been quelled. With the ignominious defeat of the rebels, the sanguinary conflict they created has ended over the overwhelming portion of Tibet. Now Tibet faces a peaceful revolution, that is, the democratic reforms in Tibet referred to in the resolution of the National People’s Congress and which the broad masses of people in Tibet have long expected and urgently demanded.
  • Prime Minister’s Reply to Debate in Lok Sabha – May 8, 1959
    Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, this matter concerning the developments in Tibet has come up before this House as well as before the other House on several occasions in the course of the last few weeks and I have had occasion to make many statements on the situation arising from these developments.
  • Vajpayee in the Indian Parliament – 1959
    Mr. Deputy Speaker Sir, one cannot deny the fact that due to the events in Tibet, a tension has been created in the relations between India and China. But the responsibility for this tension is not India’s.
  • The Mussorie Press Conference – June 1959
    At his first press conference in India, on 20 June 1959 at Mussoorie, the Dalai Lama told the story of the Tibetan rebellion in his own words. The following statement was issued to the newspapermen before the Dalai Lama answered questions.
  • Statement from the Communist Party of India – 1959
    All honest men in our country have been extremely pained by recent events in Tibet. This ancient land, with which our people have long and abiding ties, has recently seen much loss of life and destruction of property. And it is but natural that it should attract the sympathy of all Indians who have always wished well to the people of Tibet. All Indians likewise sympathise with our friendly and great neighbour China, who is meeting this difficult situation with utmost regard for human considerations, of Tibetan autonomy and the unity of the Chinese nation.
  • Resolution of the All India Tibet Convention, Calcutta – 30-31 May, 1959
    THIS Convention places on record its deep sympathy with the Tibetans in their struggle for freedom and the sufferings and tribulations through which they have passed in recent years due to the aggression of China. The Convention is firmly of the opinion that the Tibetans have the same claim to the right of self-determination as any other nation of the world.
  • White Paper 1 – Year 1959
    Notes, Memoranda and letters Exchanged and Agreements signed between The Governments of India and China 1954 – 1959. Documents related to 1959, including exchange of letters between Prime Minister of India and China.
  • White Paper 2 – September-November 1959
    Notes, Memoranda and Letters Exchanged and Agreements signed between The Governments of India and China 1954 – 1959. Correspondence between September and November 1959.
  • White Paper 3 – November 1959-March 1960
    Notes, Memoranda and Letters Exchanged and Agreements signed between The Governments of India and China 1954 – 1959. Correspondence between September and November 1959.
  • A Conversation With Mao from Antonov’s Journal – October 21, 1959
    Top Secret (Summary of a conversation with the Chairman of the Central Committee Communist Party of China on 14 October 1959)
    In accordance with instructions I visited Mao Tse-Tung and gave him confidential information about Comrade N.S. Khrushchev’s visit to the USA. Handing Mao Tse-Tung the text of the information, I told him that according to the Chinese press and to comments of Chinese comrades, the conviction had developed at the Embassy that our Chinese friends approve of the results of Comrade N.S. Khrushchev’s visit to the USA. Comrade Mao Tse-Tung, in reply, said that they fully approve of this foreign policy step of the CPSU, and that they have no differences in evaluation of the significance of this trip.
  • Statement by Krishna Menon at UN – October 21, 1959
    Statement by Indian representative V. K. Krishna Menon in the UN General Assembly on the Question of Tibet, 21 October 1959 (Extracts)
    While we did not support the inscription of this item, for reasons which I shall mention in a moment, we do not want in any way to put forward legalistic objections or seek to raise a procedural barrier.
    Consideration of this problem must, first of all, have as its central theme the interests of the Tibetan people and of the Dalai Lama himself. So far as we are aware, there have been troubles in Tibet not only in the old days but in recent times also. This may well be part of the changes that are taking place in the world. But we should like to have these changes take place more peacefully with less cruelty, perhaps with less upset.
  • A Historial Note on the Himalayan Frontiers – 1959
    India’s northern frontier is a traditional one, in the sense that it has lain approximately where it now runs for nearly three thousand years. The areas along this frontier, which is nearly 2,500 miles long from the Kuen Lun mountains in the far north to the junction with Burma in the east, have always been a part of India: At times they were independent principalities, and in other periods.
  • Suslov Report – October 1959
    Draft report dated 18 December 1959, “On the October 1959 trip of the Soviet party-governmental delegation to the People’s Republic of China,” by M. Suslov to CC CPSU Presidium for presentation to a forthcoming CC CPSU Plenum (excerpts)
  • The Sino-Indian Border Dispute Section 1: 1950-59
    This collection of declassified analytic monographs and reference aids, designated within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Directorate of Intelligence (DI) as the CAESAR, ESAU, and POLO series, highlights the CIA’s efforts from the 1950s through the mid-1970s to pursue in-depth research on Soviet and Chinese internal politics and Sino-Soviet relations. The documents reflect the views of seasoned analysts who had followed closely their special areas of research and whose views were shaped in often heated debate.
  • New East-bloc Documents on the Sino-Indian Conflict in 1959 and 1962
    The following three selections from Russian and East German documents exemplify the new East-bloc archival evidence that is becoming available on the triangular Sino-Indian-Soviet relations. (Unfortunately, Chinese and Indian archives on these issues are currently unavailable.)
  • Nehru’s statement in Rajya Sabha – December 8, 1959
    Nehru’s statement in Rajya Sabha, 8 December 1959 (Extracts)
    Apart from the obvious responsibilities of defending India and Indian territory, our responsibilities undoubtedly extend to the neighbouring countries, Sikkim, Bhutan and Nepal. We have to stand by them whatever the consequences. Each one of them stands on a separate footing, and let us not mix them up. Nepal of course, is an independent country just as India is independent and whatever it chooses to do in the exercise of that independence, we cannot come in the way.

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The Dalai Lama arrives in India (1959)
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