Dalai Lama appeals to the United Nations – 1959

New Delhi, India, 9 September 1959

Appeal by His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet to the United Nations (1959)

His Excellency
Secretary General United Nations
New York

Your Excellency,

Kindly refer to the proceedings of the General Committee of the United Nations General Assembly held on Friday, 24 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. I and my Government have made several appeals for peaceful and friendly settlement, but so far these appeals have been completely ignored. Under these circumstances, and in view of the inhuman treatment and crimes against humanity and religion to which the people of Tibet are being subjected, I solicit immediate intervention of the United Nations and consideration by the General Committee on its own initiative of the Tibetan issue, which had been adjourned. In this connection I and my Government wish to emphasize that Tibet was a sovereign State at the time when her territorial integrity was violated by the Chinese armies in 1950. In support of this contention the Government of Tibet urges the following:

First, no power of authority was exercised by the Government of China in or over Tibet since the Declaration of Independence by the Thirteenth Dalai Lama in 1912.

Second, the sovereign status of Tibet during this period finds conclusive evidence in the fact that the Government of Tibet concluded as many as five international agreements immediately before and during these years.

Third, the government of Tibet takes its stand on the Anglo-Tibet Convention of 1914 which recognized the sovereign status of Tibet and accorded the same position to the Tibetan plenipotentiary as was given to the representatives of Great Britain and China. It is true that this convention imposed certain restrictions on the external sovereignty of Tibet, but these did not deprive her of her internal position. Moreover, these restrictions ceased to have any effect on the transfer of power in India.

Fourth, there is no valid and subsisting international agreement under which Tibet or any other power recognized Chinese suzerainty.

Fifth, the sovereign status of Tibet is equally evident from the fact that during the Second World War Tibet insisted on maintaining her neutrality and only allowed the transport of nonmilitary goods from India to China through Tibet. This position was accepted by the Governments of Great Britain and China.

Sixth, the sovereign status has also been recognized by other powers. In 1948 when the Trade Delegation from the Government of Tibet visited India, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, the passport issued by the Tibetan Government was accepted by the governments of these countries.

Your Excellency, I and my government also solicit immediate intervention of the United Nations on humanitarian grounds. Since their violation of the territorial integrity of Tibet, the Chinese forces have committed the following offenses against the universally accepted laws of conduct:

First, they have dispossessed thousands of Tibetans of their properties, and deprived them of every source of livelihood, and thus driven them to death and desperation.

Second, men, women, and children have been pressed into labor gangs and made to work on military constructions without payment or on nominal payment.

Third, they have adopted cruel and inhuman measures for the purpose of sterilizing men and women with view to the total extermination of the Tibetan race.

Fourth, thousands of innocent people of Tibet have been brutally massacred.

Fifth, there have been many cases of murder of leading citizens of Tibet without any cause or justification.

Sixth, every attempt has been made to destroy our religion and culture. Thousands of monasteries have been razed to the ground and sacred images and articles of religion completely destroyed. Life and property are no longer safe, and Lhasa, the capital of the State, is now a dead city.

The sufferings which my people are undergoing are beyond description, and it is imperatively necessary that this wanton and ruthless murder of my people should be immediately brought to an end. It is under these circumstances that I appeal to you and the United Nations in the confident hope that our appeal will receive the consideration it deserves.

The Dalai Lama

Source: The Dalai Lama's memoir: My Land and My People, published 1962.

This page was posted on 4 October 2022; updated 26 October 2022.

Google ad