Fujisan's Kyareng

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summary of the Book : A Tibetan Revolutionary Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal

By T.G. Arya

A TIBETAN REVOLUTIONARY, (The Political Life and Times of Bapa Phuntso Wangye)
by Melvyn C. Goldstein, Dawei Sherap, and William R. Siebenschuh
University of California Press, 2004

Summary of the book
Bapa Phuntsok Wangye, born in Jan 1922 in Batang, he was deeply inspired by the situation at Kham and the heroic exploits of Kesang Tsering and his uncle, Lobsang Dhondup around that time. He went to Nanjing at the age of 14 to study. Formed the first secret Tibetan Communist Party in 1939. Expelled from the school for communist activity in 1940. He contacted the Soviet Embassy in Chongqing for possible help and training to start a socialist revolution in Kham (Xikang). He made an effort to contact the Chinese communist party also. Eventually, in 1942 he returned to Kham to spread the communist activities to overthrow the Chinese warlord Liu Wenhui in Kham. Soon the Chiang Kaishek people suspected him and he fled to Tibet. Inspired by Yuthok, Governor-General of Chamdo, he went to Lhasa to initiate reform in Tibetan Kashag. In Lhasa he formed Tibetan Snowland Communist Revolutionary Association (ÇKP-¿YôP-zôh-¼ÛGÅ-GÝP-Fm-¼ÛP-¾ÞGÅ-Gż-zXï-±ôGÅ-VßP.ü).
But from the cabinet ministers, except for Surkhang’s (32 at that time) initial interest, he did not receive any positive response. Later he asked for the Tibetan Government’s support for weapons and ammunitions to start guerrilla warfare in Kham. The plan was to establish a Tibetan rule in Batang, and then expand it to all Kham. The last part of the program was to merge the new Kham with Tibet proper, creating a single unified Tibet. However the Lhasa government contended that Japan would rule over China, so there was no fear of Chinese attack. No help was rendered then. In 1944, Phunwang with Ngawang Kesang left for Kalimpong to see if the Indian Communist Party could help them.

In 1945, he left for Chamdo to start an armed revolution. He met Gombo Tsering of Dechen who had a similar idea of self-rule in Kham. They formed the “Eastern Tibet People’s Autonomous Alliance”. However, before they could do any concrete revolutionary activities, Wang Wenjun and his men (GT’s rival though a close relative) assassinated Gombo Tsering. Pursued by Wang Wenjun’s men and Gomindang, Phunwang fled to Tibet in 1947. Working as a teacher he resumed his revolutionary work in Tibet with the progressive local aristocrats Shokhang, Janglojen, and Kapshopa Sey. Tredong sey was out of Lhasa at that time.

In 1949, it was becoming clear that Chinese Communists would triumph over the Nationalists, and the Lhasa government was very nervous about the prospect of atheist socialists ruling China. While Phunwang was planning to leave for Kham to join the socialist revolution, the Tibetan government expelled him for being a communist. He joined the Communist movement with the view that the best way to bring change to Kham and Tibet was by working with the Chinese Communist Party. In Batang, Liu Wenhui surrendered and Batang was liberated.

In 1950, he met Deng Xiaoping, Liu Bochen, and He Long, the highest-ranking officials in the Southwest Bureau and the leaders in charge of the coming liberation of Tibet. He was assigned with Zhang Guohua, the commander of the 18th Army to enter Tibet to discuss the peaceful liberation of Tibet. Despite many efforts, when the Tibetan government instead of sending a delegation was sending officials to India, the 18th Army crossed the Drichu River and invaded Chamdo. Ngabo, the then governor-general along with ten thousand troops were captured. Through Ngabo, they urged the Tibetan government to send a delegation to Beijing to discuss the peaceful liberation of Tibet. Thubden Lengmon, Sampo Sey, Commander in Chief Kheme and Lhautara joined Ngabo to Beijing. On 1951, May, 23, Seventeen-Point Agreement was signed.

The main force of the 18th Army arrived in Lhasa on October 26, 1951, under the command of Zhang Guohua. Later in December, another troops from Northwest Bureau under the command of Fan Ming arrived. So Lhasa had troops and officials from both the Northwest and Southwest Bureaus. The two Bureaus had a lot of differences as to how the liberation of Tibet was to be conducted. Fang Ming supported the Panchen faction and showed a Great Han Chauvinism attitude. Against the central government’s policy, he tried to rush reforms in Tibet.

In 1953, Phunwang was sent to Beijing with a delegation of Tibetan religious leaders attending the inaugural meeting of the Buddhist Association of China. He was, however, kept in Beijing after the tour at Fan Ming’s insistence. In 1954, both the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama were invited to participate in the National People’s Congress. Phunwang acted as an interpreter for the Dalai Lama and Mao. In one incident, regarding the Tibetan national flag, Mao said, “That is no problem. You may keep your national flag. In the future, we can also let Xinjiang have its own flag, and Inner Mongolia, too. Would it be okay to carry the national flag of the PRC in addition to that flag?” To which the Dalai Lama is said to have nodded his head, indicating "yes". This comment by Mao implied that in the future some nationalities, like Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia, could get the same system as that of the Soviet Union, while the other smaller ones would get autonomy. Liu Geping, a senior official in the State Nationalities Affairs Commission also had the same opinion.

In March 1956, Phunwang accompanied Vice Premier Chen Yi to Lhasa to represent the central government at the inauguration of the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. Phunwang observed that despite Chen Yi’s moderate comments and reassurances about reforms, and his expressions of respect and admiration for Tibetan culture, the atmosphere within the Tibet Work Committee was not good. During the summer of 1955, Chairman Mao moved to the left and said that China was lagging behind the reforms. Fang Ming took this to mean rush reforms in Tibet.

Just when he was about to leave with Chen Yi for Beijing, he received a report that reforms in Kham had encountered some problems and that Beijing wanted him to go to Kham to investigate the problem and report to Beijing. He found that reforms in Kham were done poorly and in a rush without any discussion with the upper-strata Tibetans. Zhang Xiaomong, the Han Chinese who headed the investigation group sent from Lhasa also confirmed this finding. Liu Geping was sent to Kham to correct the mistakes. Zhou Enlai sent Phunwang to Tibet to report the matter to the Dalai Lama. Che Jigme was sent to do the same to Panchen Lama. The central government accepted the mistake in Kham but instructed that the reforms be improved and corrected. Harrowing experiences of reforms in Kham alerted Tibetans on the other side of Drichu, and Lhasa.

On December 5, 1956, the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama visited India to participate in the celebration of the 2500th anniversary of the birth of the Buddha. They stayed for four months in India, during which Gyalo Dhondup and Taktser Rinpoche urged the Dalai Lama to take refuge in India and that America would support the Tibetan struggle. Zhou Enlai met Dalai Lama and Nehru in India. Nehru advised the Dalai Lama to return. Ngabo, who was also with Dalai Lama’s entourage left before him and requested the central government to allow him to join the Communist party. He further requested that in the event of PLA leaving Tibet, he and his family should also be taken with them. This seems to have alerted the central government.

Around 1958, anti rightist campaign started and local nationalism was opposed. Phunwang was called to Beijing and was accused of being harboring local nationalism. In 1960 he was formally arrested for counter-revolutionary activities and was sent to Qingchen number one prison. He had hoped that one day Chairman Mao and Zhou Enlai would find out that he was innocent and would be released. However, he languished in prison for eighteen years. In January 1976, Zhou Enlai died, and Mao in September of the same year.

Deng Xiaoping assumed power in 1978. He changed the course of Chinese history, ushering in a new era of politics, society, and economy. In April 1978, Phunwang was released. He sent an appeal to Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang, and Chen Yi. In March 1979, Gyalo Thondup, the elder brother of Dalai Lama visited him. Later Panchen Lama also visited him. In the fall of 1979, he was invited to meet the first Tibetan Delegation from India. He was later rehabilitated politically.

In May 1980, Deng Xiaoping recognized the problem in Tibetan and sent Hu Yaobang to end the repressive “two whatever” (adopted by Hua Guofeng and followed by Ren Rong in Tibet) approach and begin a new, culturally sensitive policy in Tibet. Hu’s visit was historic and he admitted the mistakes made in Tibet and publicly announced a liberal six-point reform program on Tibet. Central Committee approved a new directive, known as “Document no. 31”. It stated that under the unified leadership of the central government, Tibet could exercise true democracy, including the right to make its own decisions. Principal of “few and outstanding” Hans in Tibet would be followed.

In June 1980, Phunwang was asked to replace Tian Bao as governor of Tibet. But he refused on the ground that he needed time to get prepared. In fact, he was not sure if he could really work as he thought in Tibet. But as Vice Director of the Nationalities Commission of NPC, he actively participated in debate and in revising the national constitution on Nationalities policy. Although many appreciated his view many criticized him for local nationalism. He was asked to confront Li Weihan, the aging Marxist theoretician who, among other positions, had headed the Seventeen-Point Agreement negotiation in 1951. In Tibet, Yin Fatang, the first party secretary of TAR, and his men accused Phunwang as one of the three enemies of the party, the other two being Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. In 1984, when Premier Zhao Ziyang came to know about the situation in Tibet, he said, “What is going on in Tibet is wrong, Economic development is the work priority for the nation-including Tibet. Phunwang and the Panchen Lama are both our people, and we are trying to win over the Dalai Lama. Therefore, it is wrong to make them objects of political attack.” Yin Fatang and Ragdi were asked to apologize to Phunwang.

In 1990, his work “New Exploration of Dialectics” was published. In 1994, his second book, “Water Exist in Liquid Form on the Moon” was published. In 1996, his third book, “Further Exploration of Natural Dialectics” came out.

Phunwang’s first wife was Tsilila. She died in prison in 1967. They had three sons and two daughters. His second wife is Tseden Yangdron, a Tibetan born in Lhasa.

I summarize this book hoping that it would inspire many young Tibetans to read this great book.

Book Review: A Tibetan Revolutionary

 Book Review : A TIBETAN REVOLUTIONARY, (The Political Life and Times of Bapa Phuntso Wangye) by Melvyn C. Goldstein, Dawei Sherap, and William R. Siebenschuh

 University of California Press, 2004

 Reviewed by Tsewang Gyalpo Arya


 This a very inspiring and revealing account of a Tibetan, who in the early 1940s foresaw an urgent need for reforms in Tibet and safeguarding it from the enemies within and without the border. Goldstein and his team deserve applause for bringing alive this missing, untold, and revealing historic account of the life and the time of an unsung Tibetan revolutionary. The book clearly shows how Tibet has been betrayed and misruled by China since its occupation in the 1950’s. It is a must-read book for all the Tibetans, particularly the youngsters.

  Bapa Phuntso Wangye was a true Tibetan communist revolutionary, who had wanted to bring reforms in Tibet and establish a true socialist state in Tibet. When he found that he could not bring the desired changes in Tibet, he joined the Chinese Communist Party with the hope that the CCP would usher in a new era of socialism and prosperity in Tibet. His hope was based on his understanding of the communist theory of equality of nationalities and languages. But his hope was betrayed when he found himself in incarceration for eighteen years, during which Tibet experienced unprecedented suffering and destruction under Chinese rule. Released in 1978, he was baffled to find that his dream of a socialist Tibet governed by Tibetans had resulted in Chinese domination of Tibet. Despite many odds, he continues to seek justice and genuine autonomy for Tibet.

  Brought up in Batang, which was ruled by the Chinese at that time, he was inspired deeply by the heroic exploits of Kesang Tsering, and his uncle Lobsang Dhondup, who rose against the Chinese overlords to establish a Tibetan rule in Kham. He tried to end Chinese influence in Kham and persuaded the Lhasa government to initiate reforms to get along with the modern world. When his effort failed, he joined the Chinese Communist Party to build a new socialist Tibet.

  He studied Communist theory and Maxism-Leninism. He understood that the Soviet and Chinese Communist Parties advocated the equality of nationalities and repudiated the subordination of smaller nationalities to a larger, dominant one. And they advocated the right of all nationalities to real regional autonomy. So he and his comrades thought that being a part of the Chinese Communist Party would lead to the restructuring of Kham, and possibly the whole Tibetan area on both sides of the Drichu River, as an autonomous republic. Though this republic would be under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and under Chinese sovereignty, Tibetans would control it. (Page 125)

  To this effect, he worked hard and cooperated with the CCP to initiate reforms in Tibet. He accompanied PLA to Lhasa. He served as the main go-between between Tibetan and Chinese authorities. He extolled the glory of communism and the objectives of the CCP to the Tibetan elite. He sincerely believed that under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, Tibet could build a modern socialist state. Marxism and Leninism that he has read all speak of equality of all nationalities under a communist state.

  The Chinese leadership has also exhibited a similar attitude. It was initially a liberation and not an invasion of Tibet. From the book, it looks like Mao and the central government were very keen on engaging Tibetans and introducing reforms in Tibet peacefully. Mao’s instructions to the Chinese general visiting Tibet and Chen Yi’s understanding of the Tibetan situation were very positive. Mao’s reference to the Dalai Lama to keep the Tibetan National flag and the nationalities policy shows that Tibet would enjoy a great degree of autonomy and that Tibetans would rule Tibet. Dalai Lama also believed this and cooperated fully with the Chinese government. But things did not go as planned initially.

  Reforms in Kham were done in a rushed manner without people’s cooperation. Massacres and atrocities in Kham cautioned the Tibetans in other parts of the Drichu River. Despite the central government’s order, army generals like Fan Fing showed great Han chauvinism and looked down upon the local people, and rushed reforms in Tibet. On top of this Mao’s anti-rightist campaign in 1958 and the Cultural Revolution in 1960 exacerbated the Chinese misdemeanors in Tibet and Tibetans realized that the Chinese had come not to help Tibet build a modern socialist state but to rule and oppress.

  Despite his wholehearted cooperation with the CCP and its agenda, he was accused of counter-revolutionary activities for harboring local nationalism and seeking independence for Tibet. He was imprisoned for 18 long years. It was only after the death of Mao, that Deng Xiaoping released him in 1979. He was appointed as vice-director of the Nationalities Commission of the National People’s Congress. He spoke openly for the equality of all nationalities. He has suggested some crucial amendments in the Chinese constitution to give Tibet its rightful place under the law of the land.

  From Phunwang’s life, the authors have very well summarized the Tibet issue as predominantly a clash between the political dominance of a majority nationality, the Han, and the political subordination of a minority nationality, the Tibetans. The PRC considers itself a multiethnic State in which all groups have equal rights and power. But Phunwang suggests that the situation in Tibet operates too much like a Han Chinese State. He was of the opinion that the fundamental issue was developing a proper relationship between two nationalities and two cultures. Marxism-Leninism is totally opposed to one nationality oppressing others and believes there should be real equality between the nationalities. When such equality is absent, Marxism considers that minority nationalities are justified in seeking separation. Therefore, the splitist activities of Tibetans are justified.

  He urged the Chinese leadership to study the Marxist theory on this issue of equality of nationalities. He made his point that the ruling (oppressing) nationality typically emphasizes in its rhetoric the unity of all nationalities (minzu tuanjie), and vigorously opposes the struggles of minority nationalities against the state, labeling these pejoratively as “splittist” activities that seek to destroy the nation. However, from the Marxist standpoint, the struggle of minority nationalities against oppression by the majority nationality is correct and justified because there is no equality. In the absence of true equality, splittism is a valid response for minority nationalities in class-based societies. All should be equal, and there should be complete unity and cooperation among nationalities. Nationality unity, therefore, requires not suppression but new policies that provide real equality.

  Lenin has said, “We require that there be sovereign equality between nationalities in a country” (The Collected Work of Lenin vol. 19). True national equality, therefore, means that the party/state should admit and respect the rights of the minorities to make decisions in the fields of politics, economy, culture, and so on. “Only this will solve the issue of separatist feelings and activities.” (p295)

  “Those who do not agree with and support the equality of nationalities and languages and those who do not fight against nationality oppression and inequality are not Marxists or even socialists” (The Collected Work of Lenin, vol.20). And Stalin said that the people of a certain nationality use their own language because using their own language is the only way for them to develop their own culture, politics, and economy” (The Collected Works of Stalin, vol II) (p296)

 The quotes taken from the works of Lenin and Stalin by Phunwang clearly reveal that the CCP has denied Tibet its right to equality of nationalities and language. So Tibetans have every right to fight against nationality oppression and inequality in Tibet.

  If the PRC sincerely considers Tibet as a part of the great Motherland and is genuine about the interest of the Tibetan people, it should stop its oppressive rule in Tibet and let Tibet build its own socialist state. As stated by Hu Yaobang, (General Secretary of CCP in the 1980s) under the unified leadership of the central government, Tibet should have freedom to exercise true democracy, including the right to make its own decisions. The principle of “few and outstanding Hans” advocated at that time needs to be followed. Chinese leadership needs to look back and see if the liberal six-point reform program suggested by Hu Yaobang has been implemented in Tibet or not. As long as the Chinese Hans and PLA continue to rule Tibet, Tibetans will continue to seek separation. If the PRC wants Tibet to join the great motherland, it should give Tibet to Tibetans. It should stop Han domination and the Chinese population transfer to Tibet because this is against the interest of the minority and against the principles of Marx and Lenin.

  Thus His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s calls for genuine autonomy for Tibet is within the framework of the Chinese constitution. And Tibetans are justified to seek separation if this genuine autonomy is denied to them. Chinese leadership should, therefore, admit the wrongs it had done and be bold enough to address the Tibetan issue sincerely and seriously.

  Young Tibetans must read this book to gain a different perspective on our struggle. The book also clearly tells us that it is not communism that razed Tibet but the Chinese leaders who misinterpreted the ideology to invade Tibet. What the Chinese leadership had done and is doing in Tibet is against the principles of Marx and Lenin, and the Chinese constitution.

Special Prayers in Tokyo

Special Prayers for the Flood and Mudslide Victims held in Tokyo
[Tibet House Japan, Friday 20 August 2010]

Tokyo: A special prayer service for the flood and mudslide victims in India, Pakistan, Tibet and China was held at Joenji, a Japanese Buddhist Temple in Tokyo. Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan and East Asia organized the prayer session; around forty Tibetans and Japanese participated.
Mr. Tsewang Gyalpo Arya of the Liaison Office briefed the gravity of the situation in the affected area and said that this prayer session is in tandem with the prayers held in Dharamsala and Tibetan settlements throughout India and abroad. He said that the prayer is for the peace of those deceased, and for early normalization of the lives of those affected, and to pray that such disasters are not repeated.

Regarding the mudslide disaster in Drugchu area of Tibet, which claimed the lives of more than 1300 Chinese and Tibetans and many rendered homeless, Mr. Arya said that the disaster is viewed by some experts and environmentalists as "a man made disaster". "Through this prayer service we would also like to appeal to the Chinese leadership to refrain from further damaging the already fragile ecology of Tibet." He said.

Mr. Lobsang, Vice President of Tibetan Community in Japan [TCJ] led the prayers. Recitation of Tara and Heart sutra, [Dolma and Sherab Nyingpo], Guru prayers and Mani mantra etc were done. As Tibetan texts with Japanese translation and transliteration were made available, the Japanese participants also recited the prayers along with the Tibetans. Japanese version of Heart Sutra, Hangya Shingyo was also offered.

Mr. Arya thanked the participants, and took the opportunity to thank the Japanese public for their generous donation for Kyegudo Earthquake Relief Fund. A brief report on how the fund has been transferred to the Relief Committee in India was also made. He further appealed for similar relief assistance for the affected areas in Ladhak, and Drugchu in Tibet.

The participants offered butter lamps at the altar, some made donation for the relief activities. Many expressed shock and sympathy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mudslide Disaster in Drugchu, Tibet

Mudslide Disaster in Drugchu [Chinese: Zhouqu]: A Man-Made Disaster.
August 18, 2010

The recent mudslide tragedy in Tibetan area of Drugchu [Chinese: Zhouqu] in Eastern Tibet has claimed lives of more than 1200 people with around 600 are still missing. Damage to the public and private properties and livestock is huge, and many people are rendered homeless. People in the region, both Tibetan and Chinese people are undergoing great mental and physical pain because of this tragedy. Chinese government has declared Aug 14 as a national mourning day.

But who is to blame for this disaster? Is it a natural disaster or a man-made disaster?

Since the Chinese occupation of Tibet, China has always looked upon Tibet as a conquered colony to be exploited to the best of China's benefit. Although China keep asserting that Tibet is a part of China, in the heart of heart, Chinese leaders have never looked on Tibet as a part of the motherland. China engaged in rampant skinning of the Tibetan mountains, felling the trees and diverting the course of rivers, this is the root cause of the disaster.

Recent floods and mudslides in Tibet, China, India and Pakistan is a clear warning from the Mother Nature that she could no longer bear the greedy hyenas' assault on her body. The guardian spirits of the rivers of Tibet, which sustained the lives and soil of major South East Asian countries for the past many years, are also not happy.

Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Indus rivers of India and Pakistan emanates from Tibet. Nu, Thalween and Salween of China, Burma and Thailand are one river whose origin is Gyalmo Nyulchu of Tibet. Zachu river of Tibet is the famous Mekong River nourishing the people in China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Drichu and Machu rivers of Tibet are the source of Yangtse and Hwang Ho River, the origin of Chinese civilization. From this we can deduce the importance of Tibetan ecology.

China is currently trying to divert the course of some of these rivers to its arid provinces. They are trying to contain the flow of river like Brahmaputra by building dams. This will greatly affect the lives of farmers in Bangladesh and India whose fields depends on this river for irrigation.

The recent mudslide tragedy, which claimed the lives of so many people and left so many displaced in Drugchu area of Eastern Tibet is not a natural disaster. It is a disaster brought about by the decree of a greedy regime bent on recklessly exploiting the natural resources of its conquered territory.

Ecology of Tibet is not a Tibetan problem alone; it affects all the South East Asian countries that live by the waters from the rivers originating from High Plateau of Tibet.

Much before the modern world was talking of environment, Tibetans lived in close harmony with the nature. Serene and unexploited Tibetan mountains, forest and rivers were the abode of gods and deities of Tibet. But the abode of Chenrezig Avaloketsvara, the Buddha of compassion is now melting faster than expected by the experts.

Chinese communist leadership should not avoid the scene by merely observing a national mourning day; it should thoroughly look into the cause of this disaster and refrain from further damaging the fragile ecology of Tibet. The best is to leave the Tibetan environment in the hand of Tibetans with their ancient Rigya rLung-gya concept of environmental protection and harmony, so that disasters like these are not repeated.