Dalai Lama appeals to the United Nations – 1960 – 2

Swarg Ashram,
Dharamshala Cantt.
East Punjab, India

29 September 1960

His Excellency
Dag Hammarskjold
United Nations,
New York, NY

Your Excellency:

  1. May I convey to the United Nations and to Your Excellency my warm appreciation of the great work which has been and is being done in Congo under the auspices of the UN.
  2. Kindly refer to my letter of 9 September 1959, circulated by you as Note No. 2033, and also to my letter to Your Excellency of 2 September 1960.
  3. I am happy to learn that the Question of Tibet has been inscribed on the agenda of the UN Assembly for this year at the instance of Malaya and Thailand to whom I am deeply grateful. I do hope that all the peace-loving countries will take heed of the voice of my people and provide for them a ray of light in the night of subjugation and oppression through which they are passing.
  4. I am happy to note that in his speech in the Assembly on 24 September 1960, HEN Khrushchev called for the freedom of all colonial peoples. Unfortunately my country has been reduced to the status of a colonial country, and I hope that along with other countries the USSR will also raise its powerful voice in support of the restoration of freedom to my country.
  5. I assert that long before 1911-12 there was no vestige of Chinese authority in Tibet, but it is not necessary for me to examine the historical aspect of this question for the purposes of this appeal.
  6. Whatever the position of Tibet may have been prior to 1911-12, in any event, from the day that the Thirteenth Dalai Lama proclaimed the independence of Tibet, after the invading Chinese armies had been driven out of Tibet, Tibet was not only independent de-facto but de jure.
  7. In 1913 the Tibetan Government entered into a treaty with the Government of Mongolia. This entreaty was entered into under the authority of the Dalai Lama. By this treaty Tibet and Mongolia declared that they recognized each other as independent countries.
  8. With a view to settle some outstanding questions, Tibet agreed to enter into tripartite discussions which commenced in 1913, at Simla. The parties to the discussion were the British Government, Chinese Government, and Tibetan Government, The representative of each government being a plenipotentiary on behalf of his government. This appears clearly from the text of the Convention which was initialed by the representatives of all the parties.
  9. This fact is also emphasized by the White Paper No. II issued by the Government of India (page 38) entitled “Notes, Memoranda, and Letters Exchanged between the Governments of India and China, September-November, 1959.” This has been further emphasized in the note of the Government of India dated 12 February 1960 (pp. 94, 95) in the White Paper No. III issued by the Government of India.
  10. Although the text of the Convention was initialed by the representative of the Chinese Government, the Chinese Government backed out and ultimately on the third of July, 1914, the signatures on behalf of the Dalai Lama, in his capacity as the head of the Tibetan State, and the British plenipotentiary were appended. At the same time the plenipotentiaries of Great Britain and Tibet, in view of the refusal of the Chinese Government, signed the following Declaration:
  11. “We the plenipotentiaries of Great Britain and Tibet, hereby record the following declaration to the effect that we acknowledge the annexed Convention as initialed to be binding on the governments of Great Britain and Tibet, and we agree that so long as the Government of China withholds signature to the aforesaid Convention, she will be debarred from the enjoyment of all privileges accruing therefrom.
  12. “In token whereof we have signed and sealed this declaration, two copies in English and two in Tibetan.
  13. “Done at Simla this third day of July, AD 1914, corresponding with the Tibetan date — the tenth day of the fifth month of The Wood Tiger Year.

    Henry McMahon,
    British Plenipotentiary

    (Seal of the British Plenipotentiary)
    (Seal of the Dalai Lama)
    (Seal of the LonchenShatra) (Signature of the LonchenShatra)
    (Seal of the Drepung Monastery)
    (Seal of the Sera Monastery)
    (Seal of the Gaden Monastery)
    (Seal of the National Assembly)”

  14. The Chinese Government, never having adhered to the terms of the Convention, never became entitled to any of the advantages which they may have derived from the terms of the Convention.
  15. In 1926 Tibet was represented at a Boundary Commission consisting of the representatives of Tibet, Tehri, and Great Britain which met at Nilang.
  16. Between 1912 and 1950 there was not even a semblance of Chinese authority in Tibet. There was a Chinese mission in Tibet which arrived in 1934 to offer condolences on the death of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. This Mission was permitted to continue to stay in Tibet on the same footing as the missions from Nepal and from the Government of India.
  17. On numerous occasions after 1936 the officers of the Chinese mission to Lhasa used to travel via India to Tibet. On every occasion the Indian Government granted 01 refused transit visas after consulting the wishes of the Government of Tibet.
  18. In 1949 even this mission was expelled from Tibet.
  19. Tibet was not a party to the Sino-Japanese war, and even during the Second World War Tibet insisted on its position as neutral and did not permit the transport of war material from India to China.
  20. The Chinese claim that Tibetan delegates participated in the Constituent Assembly in 1946 and that they also sat in the Chinese National Assembly in 1948. This claim is absolutely false. Dzasak Khemey Sonam Wangdo, who was the leader of the Delegation which went to China, says,
    “In 1946 the Tibetan Government had sent a good will Mission headed by Dzasak Rong-pel-lhun, Thubten Samphel and myself Dzasak Khemey Sonam Wangdo with assistants to offer victorious greetings to Britain, America, and the Kuomintang Government; we travelled via Calcutta to New Delhi, and offered the greetings to Britain and America through their Ambassadors; from there we went by air to Nanking and offered greetings. Due to illness and medical treatment we remained there for a few months. Then we toured several provinces and on our return to Nanking they were having their big assembly. We attended the assembly in order to study the behaviour of the Khamba and other Tibetan emigrants who attended the assembly as pretended Tibetan representatives. But we did not recognize or sign the new constitutional law (Shenfa) which was then made.”

    As for 1948, our mission in Nanking, namely the Khandon Losum, also attended the Chinese Assembly as visitors but no special representative was deputed from Lhasa, and they similarly did not recognize or sign the resolutions of the assembly.

  21. In 1947 after India became independent, in reply to a communication from the Tibetan Government, the Government of India replied as follows:
    “The Government of India would be glad to have an assurance that it is the intention of the Tibetan Government to continue relations on the existing basis until new agreements are reached on matters that either party may wish to take up. This is the procedure adopted by all other countries with which India has inherited treaty relations from His Majesty’s Government.”
  22. Between 1912 and till the Seventeen-Point Agreement was signed on 23 May 1951, Tibet continued to conduct its foreign affairs without reference to any outside authority. Tibetan delegations in 1946 and in 1948 traveled extensively on Tibetan passports.
  23. Mr HE Richardson, who was in charge of the British and later Indian Mission at Lhasa, stated to the Legal Inquiry Committee on Tibet, constituted by the International Commission of Jurists that, “… the duties of the Officer in Charge of the British and later Indian Mission at Lhasa after 1936 were principally to conduct the diplomatic business of his Government with the Tibetan Government” (page 146 of the report entitled “Tibet and the Chinese People’s Republic”).
  24. The foregoing facts should suffice to show that Tibet was completely independent. Since, however, doubts were raised last year regarding the status of my country, the following facts may be usefully stated:
  25. Sir Eric Teichmann in Affairs of China wrote: “Since [1912] no vestige of Chinese authority has survived or reappeared in Lhasa-ruled Tibet. In more than twenty years he [the Thirteenth Dalai Lama] ruled as undisputed master of autonomous Tibet, preserving internal peace and order and maintaining close and intimate relations with the Indian Government.”
  26. In 1928 Sir Charles Bell in The People of Tibet pointed out that Chinese authority in Tibet had ceased.
  27. M Amaury de Riencourt who was in Tibet in 1947, states, “Tibet ruled itself in all respects as an independent nation.” He goes on to say that “Government’s writ ran everywhere.”
  28. Tsung Lien-shen and Shen Chi-liu, who were both members of the Chinese Mission in Lhasa, say, “Since 1911 Lhasa has to all practical purposes enjoyed full independence.” In support of this they mention that Tibet had its own currency and customs, its own telegraph and postal service, and its own civil service different from that of China, and its own army.
  29. In 1950 when the proposal of El Salvador to place the question of the invasion of Tibet on the agenda of the General Assembly was being considered, the Jam Saheb of Nawanagar, the representative of India, said his government had given careful study to the problems raised by the proposal of El Salvador to place the question of the invasion of Tibet by foreign forces on the General Assembly agenda. That was a matter of vital interest to both China and India. The Committee was aware that India, as a neighbor of both China and Tibet, with both of which it had friendly relations, was the country most interested in a settlement of the problem. That was why the Indian government was particularly anxious that it should be settled peacefully. (A/BUR/SR.73, page 19)
  30. The claim of the Chinese to suzerainty over Tibet is based on the 1907 Convention between Great Britain and Russia. It may be pointed out that Tibet was not a party to that Convention and was in no way bound by that Convention.
  31. As the head of the Tibetan government I say that what happened on 7 October 1950, was a flagrant act of aggression on the part of China against my country.
  32. The Tibetan government appealed to the United Nations for help. As a result of the defeat of the Tibetan army, and after the efforts of the Tibetan government to get the help of the United Nations had failed, we were compelled to send a delegation to Peking. The delegation was compelled to sign what is known as the Seventeen-Point Agreement on 23 May 1951.
  33. The events since then and till my departure from Tibet in March, 1959, are too well known to require any detailed recounting. Even now refugees are coming into Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and India practically every day. The number of the refugees is 43,500. From the accounts of these refugees, the oppression and wholesale terror, to which I referred in my letter to you last year and also this year, have in no way lessened.
  34. In this connection may I draw the attention of the United Nations to the excellent reports on the question of Tibet published by the International Commission of Jurists. In the second report, the distinguished Committee that closely examined the question came to the conclusion, inter alia, that Chinese authorities had been guilty of genocide within the meaning of the Genocide Convention. I trust that the United Nations will carefully examine the facts on which this conclusion is based and will take appropriate action to deal with this matter. Genocide, even apart from the Genocide Convention, has been recognized as a crime against International Law.
  35. As a result of a wholesale breach of all the important terms of the Seventeen-Point Agreement, the General Assembly (consisting of officials and public, mainly the public) repudiated that Agreement, as it was well entitled to do, and reasserted the independence of Tibet on 10 March 1959.
  36. The fighting in Tibet against the occupiers and the oppressors is still going on. I appealed to the United Nations last year, and I am making this appeal again in the hope that the United Nations will take appropriate measures to get China to vacate its aggression. In my opinion, any measure short of this is not going to be of much help to my country where the Communist steamroller is every day crushing out the freedom of my people.
  37. May I request Your Excellency to place this Appeal before the United Nations.

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 7 October 2022.

Google ad