Fifty years is long in the life of a man. It is long also for a nation.
Fifty years ago, on March 10, 1959, the population of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital revolted against the Chinese Communist invaders. A few days later, the Dalai Lama, the temporal and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people fled his country. Since then, he lives as a refugee in India.
Ironically, it was a Chinese communiquÃÂ© issued in Beijing on March 28, 1959 by the New China News Agency which gave a stunned world the first details of the uprising (`rebellion` in Communist jargon). ÃÂViolating 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 People`s Liberation Army (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. Now, the units of the PLA, assisted by patriotic people of ail sections, both monks and lay, are mopping up the rebellious bandits in other places in Tibet,ÃÂ the communiquÃÂ© said.
The `rebellious bandits` had attempted to defend their culture against the onslaught of an atheist power and save the life of their revered leader. But let us return to a few days before this date.
Image: Protests on the streets of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, on March 10, 1959.
All pictures courtesy Claude Arpi. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.