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Shortly after the 1949 victory of Maoist forces against the U.S.-backed dictator Chiang Kai-shek, the revolution came to Tibet. The ruling class of Tibet--a feudal class of aristocrats and monks--alternated wildly between passivity and resistance.
Starting in 1957, sections of their class participated in a series of armed anti-communist actions--attempting to stop the deepening revolutionary changes in Tibet. Lamaist propagandists, including the Dalai Lama himself, portray these actions as a noble, home-grown resistance to foreign domination.
The truth is this: from its beginning within Tibet in the 1950s to the armed feudalist uprising of 1959, to the armed exile-based guerrilla movement of the 1960s--this "struggle" was organized, financed, trained, armed, led, and finally dispersed by the CIA.
In the old days, the Dalai Lama was a figurehead of an oppressive feudal order. In exile, he became the figurehead of a Tibetan CIA-backed, anticommunist armed movement headed by his brother, Gyalo Thondup--similar to so many "contra" (counterrevolutionary) armies the CIA has created to wage covert wars.
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"Many of the arms were brought in from abroad. The rebels' base south of the Tsangpo river on a number of occasions received airdropped supplies from the Chiang Kai-shek bands and radio stations were set up by agents sent by the imperialists and the Chiang Kai-shek bands for their intrigues."
The revolutionary news agency Xinhua, March 1959
"Nobody, either in committed or uncommitted countries, would be taken in by the communist allegation that... the rebellion was supported by `imperialists, the Chiang Kai-shek bands and foreign reactionaries.' " The Economist 1959
"There is nothing at all coming in from the outside." Thubten Norbu, the Dalai Lama's brother, interviewed in U.S. News and World Report, 1959
In the early 1950s, the U.S. invaded Korea and threatened to invade revolutionary China itself. Meanwhile, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked day and night to gather reactionary forces into its spy networks and to develop covert teams that could wage secret war against the new people's power in China.
In April 1949 U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson cabled his Ambassador in New Delhi that the U.S. rulers would like to see "Tibetan military capacity [to] resist quietly strengthened." Tibet historian A. Tom Grunfeld writes: "In the summer of 1950 instructions were given to the Office of Policy Coordination, the bureaucratic arm officially in charge of covert operations, to `initiate psychological warfare and paramilitary operations against the Chinese Communist regime.' "
Top feudal forces around the Dalai Lama offered themselves as eager agents--first to the reactionary Kuomintang (KMT) forces led by Chiang Kai-shek on Taiwan and soon to the U.S. directly. The Dalai Lama's two older brothers, the "incarnated lama" Thubten Jigme Norbu and Gyalo Thondup, emerged as key Tibetan CIA agents.
Grunfeld writes, "George Patterson...was intimately involved as a translator and go-between in these negotiations. He reported that in 1953 Thubten Norbu contacted the CIA and was told to take his case to the KMT (from whom he was already receiving covert aid). Patterson also recalled an encounter two years later between Ragpa Pangdatsang and representatives from the Indian and American governments. At this time the United States was supposed to have suggested a ten-year plan of revolt, the aim of which was the eventual overthrow of China's control in Tibet.... John F. Avedon, whose recent book can be considered the `official' version of the Dalai Lama view of history, contends that Gyalo Thondup made an agreement with the CIA as early as 1951.
It was initially an intelligence-gathering arrangement upgraded to guerrilla warfare in 1956. Within a short space of time the United States had eclipsed the KMT as the rebel's prime source of military aid." Grunfeld adds that in opening these arrangements with the U.S. imperialists, Thubten Norbu carried "a letter authorizing him to negotiate on behalf of the Dalai Lama." In 1958, the CIA started using air bases in Bangkok, Thailand to airdrop guns and ammunition into the ethnic-Tibetan regions of Kham.
Grunfeld writes: "It was Gyalo Thondup who arranged the first CIA training missions, picking six Tibetans for that purpose." A secret CIA training camp was soon set up for Tibetan agents at Camp Hale, high in the Colorado Rockies.