Dhokham chushi gangdruk society, Canada

history-part 3

Contact with CIA and Airdrops

In order to get necessary approval from the U.S. administration for assistance to the Tibetan resistance, the State Department required an official request from the Tibetan government. In 1957, before the return of the team of trainees from the U.S., General Andruk Gonpo Tashi asked Phala for a formal request so the Tibetan resistance would not be left short of arms and ammunition. Again in 1958, through a radio message to Athar and Lotse, the CIA asked to obtain a request from the Tibetan Authority. This was relayed to the concerned authority accordingly, but the Tibetan authorities, for reasons better known to them, did not bother to send one. However, because of the urgency of the situation of the freedom fighters in Tibet, the Eisenhower administration approved the CIA providing the support requested by the guerillas, including resupply drops as well as additional training of Tibetans by the CIA. So the log-awaited and the first resupply drop was made in August 1958 without formal request from the Tibetan government.

To combat the Communist threat, Chushi Gangdruk asked the CIA through radio message for more supply and training of more Tibetans in addition to a pilot group of six Khampas, including Mr. Athar, who were already trained and had been parachuted into Samye Lhokha and Lithang, Kham. A large number of volunteers were sent to Colorado for guerilla training and about 40 of them later airdropped into the Domshung area of Amdo Toma, Markham and Chakra Pelber in Kham between 1952 and 1962; the rest of them came back to India and were detailed to positions along the Indo-Tibetan frontier lines for various intelligence works. According to the book Tears of Lotus by Roger E. McCarthy, who had a long career and was in charge of the Tibetan Program for the CIA until late 1961, an estimated 35-40 airdrops were made, which calculates into a minimum of 550,000 to 800,000 pounds of weapons and ammunition. Weapons consisted of British 303 rifles, U.S. M-1 and M-2 rifles, 50 and 80 mm. motors, 57 and 75 mm. recoilless rifles, 30-calibre light machine guns, and 3.5 mm. Bazookas. Other materials included sub-machine guns, hand grenades, short guns, TNT, and C-3 and C-4. The valiant acts of those volunteers to save Tibet are narrated in detail in the pages of the book Four Rivers and Six Ranges by martyr Andruk Gonpo Tashi, the Commander in Chief.

In the beginning of autumn 1958, just before the first resupply drop was made, the headquarters of the resistance organization were shifted from Tsona to Lhagyari, from which all the resistance troops were detailed to carry out raids on the Chinese until 1959 when the headquarters was in the process of moving.

In September 1958 the Tibetan government in Lhasa sent a second delegation to Lhagyari. This delegation consisted of two fourth-ranking government officials, namely Tekhang Khenchung Thupten Samchok and Tsepon Namseling. Their mission was to dissuade the Khampas from their activities. They had the Kashag's letter in their hands saying that the Khampas were reactionaries and their activities were against the law of the land and therefore they should surrender their arms peacefully to the authorities. After discussion with the volunteer leaders, the representatives agreed with our cause and chose to join the volunteer force rather than return to Lhasa.

In the beginning of 1959 the resistance headquarters at Lhagyari called a meeting of top leaders to discuss various important matters of the organization. It was resulted then in the meeting that a team of three delegates would go to India to make contacts with the world outside for assistance and also to raise funds from the Khampa traders in India who could not join the resistance force. Subsequently Jago Namgyal Dorjee of Derge, Sadhu Lobsang Nyandak of Tehor and Jangza Chozak of Lithang were chose in the meeting to form the delegation. Not knowing what was to happen in Lhasa in a month or so, the delegation left Lhagyari secretly for India via Bhutan. Not very long after they reached India, the news of the Dalai Lama's escape was in the headlines of all the newspapers in India.

Uprising and Crises in Lhasa

In the capitol, there was already a rumour spread in the city about a Chinese plan to kidnap His Holiness the Dalai Lama and take him to China, and now the news of an unusual invitation of the Chinese general to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to attend a theatrical show in the Chinese camp without any escort aroused the suspicion of the Tibetan people. On the morning of March 10th, 1959, the day His Holiness was to proceed to the Chinese camp later in the evening, thousands of people, including many Khampas who for various personal reasons could not leave Lhasa to join the armed organization, rose up with arms and surrounded Norbulingkha to prevent His Holiness from going to the Chinese military camp. Although there were many Lhasan people and only several hundred Tibetan army troops as bodyguards to His Holiness, it was the Khampas who took the main responsibility of taking security measures and guarding the palace gates. Some Khampa leaders found themselves sitting with Tibetan government officers in the Army headquarters to discuss security measures and strategies. Inside the palace, His Holiness and the members of the Cabinet were put into a delicate position as the Chinese authorities had given repeated threats to bomb the palace to disperse the people unless they would leave the palace. However, the people guarding the palace refused to leave at any cost, as their devotion to His Holiness far exceeded the Chinese threats. As the situation became very tense and explosive, the only logical course of action for His Holiness was to escape. The decision to escape was made known only to the inner circle of the palace and a few of the Khampa leaders around the palace. Chushi Gangdruk was duly informed by the Cabinet and was asked to make necessary preparations for a safe passage. Accordingly, to make the escape route safe, the organization made every possible preparation to guard His Holiness' entourage from any possible threat from the Chinese Army.

                                                                                                                                                                                       Back                 Next