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  • Tibet Talk at Bangalore. - An armenian Connection

    Tibet Talk with Jamyang Norbu in Bangalore

    Phayul[Thursday, July 30, 2009 00:26]

    Bangalore - If you're a Rangzen activist, a supporter of the Tibetan
    independence movement or simply an ardent follower of the Tibetan
    issue, then you must surely have a general understanding of Tibetan
    history. Still, if one needs a scrupulously well-researched and
    painstakingly honest argument to prove Tibet's independence, the next
    time you're part of a campaign or in a heated debate with a friend or
    stranger, the perfect solution would be to turn to Jamyang Norbu's
    compilation of historical documents, maps, audio clips and photographs
    in a presentation titled `Independent Tibet - Some Facts.' (Please

    The eminent Tibetan scholar, during a two-hour long session at the TCV
    auditorium in Bangalore organized by Think Tibet and the Regional
    Tibetan Youth Congress, addressed a group of nearly 200 Tibetans, and
    spoke at length to prove the independence of Tibet before the Chinese
    Communist invasion in 1950, presenting facts, pictures and references,
    wherever the need arose.

    Before 1950, Tibet was a fully functioning independent state,
    maintaining basic law and order and yet staying far ahead of time with
    the abolishment of capital punishment in 1913, and dictating laws that
    govern environmental protection, Norbu said. Tibet at the time fed its
    people unfailingly with no help from the outside world, and despite
    its seclusion, was a self-sufficient nation, owing no money to any
    nation or foreign institution, he added.

    According to Norbu, the Tibetan people have two national anthems, the
    older of which is Gangri Rawae or Snow Mountain Rampart, while Sishe
    Pende or Universal Peace and Benefits is the more modern one composed
    after Tibet lost independence.

    Norbu pointed out that until after the Communist invasion, Tibetan
    immigrants residing in North America or Europe was unheard of, and
    that despite the frontiers of India, Bhutan and Nepal being completely
    unguarded, very few Tibetans fled the country as economic or political

    Thus, the Communist Chinese invasion in 1950 -- that saw over 40,000
    troops of the 52nd, 53rd and 54th divisions of the 18th Army of the
    Red Army attack the Tibetan frontier guarded by 3,500 regular soldiers
    and 2,000 Khampa militiamen -- was never a peaceful liberation as
    China makes it out to be, Norbu argued. He lauded the courage of the
    Tibetan army, who despite being heavily outnumbered, bravely faced the
    Chinese army and fought as hard as they could.

    Presenting a series of photographs, Norbu showed the first reference
    to the Tibetan flag, which was made in a 1934 Flags of the World issue
    of the National Geographic Magazine. The modern Tibetan flag, which
    was adopted in 1916, was probably too new at the time the magazine
    brought out its very first flag issue in 1917, Norbu said, but noted
    that Tibet still found mention in an article on medieval flags in that

    Thus, at a time when many countries in the world were yet to create
    their own flags, Tibet was among the few nations to have a flag, the
    scholar averred.

    Similarly, the maps, globes and atlases that were drawn before 1950,
    showed Tibet as an independent nation, always distinct from China,
    Norbu said. Maps drawn as early as 1680-1700 show Tibet in two parts
    but still separate from China, he said, while showing photographs of
    rare maps, globes and atlases from different periods of time.

    Before 1950, Tibet even had its own distinct currency, which was based
    on the Tam and Srang denomination system, Norbu said. While a joint
    Chinese-Tibetan currency or the Ganden Tanka was brought out when
    Manchu forces occupied Tibet, Tibetans issued its own coin using
    elaborate Tibetan and Buddhist designs once the Chinese army was
    expelled in 1912, he added.

    Paper currencies, however, came into being in Tibet only in the early
    20th century, but the beautiful designs on them were painstakingly
    printed, prompting one numismatist, Wolfgang Bertsch, to call these
    bank notes `small works of art,' Norbu said. Even in those early
    days, Tibetans coined an ingenious solution to preventing forgery of
    these bank notes -- the serial numbers on these bank notes were
    handwritten by a guild of specialist calligraphists, the epa, Norbu

    Chinese efforts to take over the Tibetan currency remained
    unsuccessful until after the departure of the Dalai Lama in 1959, when
    the official Chinese currency, the renminbi or yuan, came into use,
    Norbu said.

    But, the greatest proofs -- if there were really a need to compare
    these facts and evidences of Tibet's independence before Chinese
    invasion - would have to be the Tibetan passports, and also the
    writings of so many scholars, explorers, and government delegations
    who after visiting Tibet, recorded all they witnessed and experienced
    in the land they strongly affirmed was an independent state.

    Norbu, while addressing the rapt audience in the South Indian city of
    Bangalore, showed photographs of different Tibetan passports, right
    from the earliest on record that was issued by the Tibetan government
    to an Armenian merchant Hovannes in 1688, to the more recent passport
    used by Tsepon Shakabpa Wangchuk Dedhen, which Friends of Tibet
    presented to the Dalai Lama in March, 2004.

    Important too were the treaties signed between Tibet and its
    neighboring countries such as Bushair, Ladakh, Nepal, China and
    others, but one of the most important among these date back to 821 to
    822 AD during which the Tibetan empire and the Chinese empire entered
    into a treaty -- the evidence for which can be found on a stone pillar
    near the Jokhang temple in Lhasa, Norbu said.

    He spoke at length of the other treaties and conventions Tibet entered
    into as an independent nation, the most recent being the Shimla Treaty
    of 1914 in which British India and Tibet agreed on their common

    Norbu's two-hour long session appeared to be aimed at arming the
    Tibetan people with facts, figures and proofs they'd need to argue the
    case of Tibet's independence, and as such undoubtedly served its
    purpose. Despite the seriousness of the subject, Norbu spoke
    eloquently, sometimes moving the audience to tears, and at other
    times, leaving them roaring with laughter as he told stories with a
    touch of the unmistakable Tibetan humor.

    There is more work to be done for Tibet, Norbu said, adding that he
    was constantly researching and looking for such documents, photographs
    and things that would further authenticate Tibet's independence. These
    efforts would sometimes be met with much frustration when things fail
    to go through as one plans and wishes, Norbu said.

    Still, it is for us, Tibetans, to continue trying, he said. d=3D25225&t=3D0