By Shubhi Mangla
Tibet is located in the center of Asia and south west China bordering Nepal, Bhutan, India and Burma. It is a vast plateau with an altitude of 15,000 above sea level. It comprises of a unique culture, language and regional and political system.
In 1949, when Chairman Mao came to power, he peacefully liberated Tibet and sent troops to conquer it. Tibet being a small territory with a not so large army was easily crushed by the Chinese army. In 1951, an agreement took place between the Tibetan government and China, which acknowledged China’s sovereignty over Tibet while giving the Tibetan government the autonomy regarding Tibet’s internal matters. But over the years, the Chinese have violated this treaty and established greater control.
Today Tibet has been divided, renamed and integrated into Chinese provinces. Originally, Tibet has three provinces− Kham, U-Tsang and Amdo. When Tibet is referred in the context of China, it means the region of U-Tsang and part of Kham. The remaining part of Kham was divided between Yunnan and Sichuan Chinese provinces and Amdo between Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai.
China has imposed harsh policies over Tibet. They have destroyed their natural resources and claim that Tibet has been a part of China since 800 years without any facts. They have denied them from basic human rights including right to speak.
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There have been many protests by Tibetans to protect their land and their spiritual and political leader, Dalai Lama which has only led to Tibetans sacrificing their lives. During the uprising of 1959, Dali Lama Dalai Lama took an exile in India with his followers. He and his followers are thriving to make Tibet an independent and democratic state since years.
Here are some facts regarding Tibet
- About 1.2 million people have lost their lives after China’s invasion of Tibet in 1950. It is hard to find a family who didn’t have at least on member jailed or killed by the Chinese. Approximately 17 percent of Tibetan population has been killed.
- Tibet’s rivers provide water to over 1 billion people across Asia. Tibetan plateau is the third largest source of water and ice in the world. Its glaciers, rivers, forests and wetland are important resources for China’s global power.
- China uses torture to make Tibetans confess their crimes if they don’t confess out of fear. According to The Guardian, “Chinese security agents continue to employ a medieval array of torture methods against government opponents, activists, lawyers and petitioners, including spiked rods, iron torture chairs and electric batons, a report claims”.
- There is mass immigration of Chinese in Tibetan region. Tibetans have less as compared to the Chinese people in their own land and have been reduced to the status of a minority.
- According to freetibet.org, “Over 100 counties have achieved independence in the time that Tibet has been occupied”.
- The so called Tibetan Autonomous Region of China covers an area of 1,220,000 square kilometers which accounts for 12 percent of China’s total area. This tells us how Tibet is being wiped off the map.
- Tibetan monasteries are a key part of their rich cultural and religious significance where Tibetan Monks and nuns hold educational projects, old age homes and orphanages. Large number of monasteries has been destroyed since 1960s as the Chinese consider them as a threat. 99% of them are closed due to communist rule.
- It is one of the most repressed countries in the world alongside Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Syria.
Shubhi Mangla is an intern at Newsgram and a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi. Twitter @shubhi_mangla