The Dalai Lama’s Wikileaks Shame
Recent Wikileaks releases of US Embassy cables reveal more shameful behaviour by the Dalai Lama.
As has been well documented on this site the Dalai Lama colluded with the CIA to establish an armed resistence to the Chinese presence in Tibet. When this failed the Dalai Lama established a secret Tibetan unit within the Indian Army – the shadowy ‘Establishment 22’.
The cable releases reveal that the Dalai Lama’s secret army received a steady stream of new recruits from the Tibetan Children’s Village Schools. As the cable says: ‘Membership in Establishment 22 was compulsory for Tibetan students graduating from Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) schools until the late 1980s’. These schools were set up for the destitute children and orphans amongst the Tibetan refugee community with international aid donations.
How ironic that in the lead up to receiving the Nobel peace prize in 1989, the Dalai Lama was forcing orphans under his care into military service in his secret army.
Not only this, these orphans were then sent into war with theDalai Lama’s consent in 1971 to fight for India against Pakistan, and in other violent conflicts.
In ‘The Curious Case of Establishment 22’, published in the Hindustan Times in 2009, journalist Amitava Sanyal revealed that although Establishment 22 was ‘supposed to be a group of volunteers’ in practice the Tibetan children weren’t given a choice.
For a more personal sense of how it feels for a Tibetan orphan to be forced into conscription we can read Tashi Dhundup’s account on the Tibetan blog ‘Where Tibetans Write’:
“While at school at the Central School for Tibetans in Mussoorie, my classmates and I used to sing a song that went, “Chocho mangmi la madro, haapen bholo yoki rae”, which translates to “O brother don’t go to the army, they will make you wear those loose half-pants”. Although we sang this song in every grade, it was only years later that the true meaning of those words finally dawned on me. Each year as the seniors graduated, we would see trucks waiting at the school gate – Indian Army trucks, all set to cart many of the graduating students off to the barracks for training. At the time I was confused, and wondered why these new graduates were not simply going home.”
It is clear that for the Tibetan Children, particularly the orphans entrusted to the Tibetan Children’s Village schools, graduation was not a time of celebration.
Having been sent to the army, these orphans were then sent into war with the Dalai Lama’s consent. In the 1971 war in East Pakistan,190 of these Tibetan ‘soldiers’ were injured and 56 were killed.
A document which is a MUST-READ for anyone who thinks they know, or would like to know, the truth about the Dalai Lama is the US State Department publication ‘Foreign Relations of the United States 1964 – 1968 Volume XXX’. We will be highlighting more of the information in this document in the coming weeks and months.
Today, we draw your attention to document 342, a memorandum from the CIA to the 303 committee from 26 January 1968. The document clearly states that:
The Tibetan paramilitary unit, a remnant of the 1959 resistance force, is dispersed in 15 camps. The Tibetan leadership views the force as the paramilitary arm of its “government-in-exile”.
The CIA, together with it’s Indian equivalent the RAW, and the Tibetan Resistence fighters Chushi Gangdruk, formed ‘Establishment 22’ in 1962. There can be no doubt that it is ‘Establishment 22’ that the CIA are here referring to as the ‘paramilitary arm of the Tibetan Government in Exile’.
Furthermore, although nominally part of the Indian army, history shows who really commands Establishment 22. In 1971, when a war with pakistan loomed, Indira Gandhi, the prime minister of India, sent a letter asking if Establishment 22 would go to war for India:
“We cannot compel you to fight a war for us… It would be appreciated if you could help us fight the war for liberating the people of Bangladesh.”
It was only when the Dalai Lama gave his consent that the force was mobilised and began operations against Pakistan. This shows who the real commander-in-chief of Establishment 22 is.
Clearly, Establishment 22 is the Dalai Lama’s secret army, supplied with fresh recruits from the Tibetan orphans as revealed in the Wikileaks cables.
Having provided evidence that the Dalai Lama supplies Tibetan orphans as recruits for his secret army, we now expose some of the conditions at these orphanages.
In characteristic nepostic fashion (see Michael Backman’sexcellent article on the Dalai Lama’s Nepotism, and also his book ‘The Asian Insider’) the Dalai Lama appointed his elder sister, Tsering Dolma, to manage the funds donated for the welfare of the Tibetans orphans. A western visitor to the orphanage described the conditions she found there:
‘Some one thousand refugees, mainly children, lived there. Two hundred boys slept in one room, arranged with bunk beds all around the walls and with mattresses covering the floor. The boys slept crosswise to a mattress seven on each one of them. The girls slept in smaller rooms in similar conditions.
Overcrowding was rife and of course infections spread like wildfire. Tibetan children were used to the relatively germ-free conditions of the Tibetan plateau and were vulnerable to the diseases of the Indian plains especially while travelling across them to reach Dharamsala. They had no immunity to the diseases of a hot climate. Many children died during a measles outbreak and from hepatitis from infected water. Most children suffered from scabies, eye and ear infections, worms, dysentery. Many got pneumonia and other respiratory infections.’
She found Dalai Lama’s sister’s attitude to the orphans heartbreaking:
‘Mrs Tsering Dolma was most concerned lest Westerners who occasionally visited showed too much affection to the children.’
As Tom Grunfeld noted in his book, The Making of Modern Tibet:
‘ …while the children in her care were frequently on the verge of starvation, [Tsering Dolma] was noted for her formal twelve-course luncheons. Meanwhile, in bitterly cold weather the children were clad in thin, sleeveless cotton frocks―though when VIPs visit the Upper Nursery, every child there is dressed warmly in tweeds, wool, heavy socks, and strong boots.’
* Editorial Note: We understand that conditions at the Tibetan Children’s Villages have dramatically improved since the time when Tsering Dolma was in charge. Especially since Austrian charity SOS Kinderdorf took over the project. Here we are simply highlighting a sad episode in the Tibetan’s history relevant to the wikileaks disclosure.
Dalai Lama’s travel party requests CIA to send weapons
The CIA-trained fighters who accompanied the Dalai Lama on his escape to India were in regular radio contact with their CIA handlers. This message is a request for a substantial delivery of weapons.
The Nazi Connections
Throughout his life the Dalai Lama has had close associations with many Nazis, includingBruno Beger, who was convicted for his ‘scientific research’ at Auschwitz; and Miguel Serrano, head of the Nazi Party in Chile and the author of several books that elevate Hitler to a god-like status. As a child he was under the tutelage of Heinrich Harrer – a former sergeant in the SS, Hitler’s most loyal soldiers – who for some years in Tibet before the Chinese occupation taught the young Dalai Lama about the outside world.
Hitler’s Nazi regime had close connections with the Tibetan Government. There were several SS expeditions to Lhasa.
Heinrich Harrer … became the Western guru of Tibet’s young 14th Dalai Lama … The 85 year old Austrian has been confronted with a terrible secret from his past: that he was a member of Hitler’s SS.
H. G. Bissinger
The Tibetan court used to have close ties with the Nazi regime, SS-expeditions were welcomed to Lhasa with full mark of respect. To this day, His Holiness has never distanced himself from these inglorious relationships.
Gerald Lehner: Do you know the Dalai Lama personally?
Bruno Beger: Yes, I’ve met up with him several times in recent years. The last time was in London together with Heinrich Harrer, that was an invitation from him.
Zwischen Hitler und Himalaya: die Gedächtnislücken des Heinrich Harrer
Bruno Beger is a convicted Nazi war criminal, involved in the deaths of 86 jews from Auschwitz and a friend of the Dalai Lama
[The Dalai Lama] invited me to go to Dharmasala where he lives now. We had a very interesting talk. It is good to know that before Buddhism was introduced in Tibet, Tibetans were a warrior’ s race and their religion, the Bon, used also the same swastika of Hitlerism. Until today the Intelligence Services of England and United States have been unable to discover the real mysterious links that existed between Tibet and Hitlerist Germany.
Interview with Miguel Serrano
The curious case of establishment 22
It’s not easy to find Radug Ngawang’s house among the maze of narrow lanes in Majnu ka Tilla, the bustling Tibetan settlement by the Yamuna in north Delhi. As we get closer, some people offer us directions. After all, the 83-year-old Ngawang is known within the community as one of the handful of
bodyguards who accompanied the Dalai Lama when he fled to India in 1959.
What they probably don’t know is that he was also an elite commando trained and armed by the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). And that for a decade and a half he was first a soldier and then leader of a top-secret Indian regiment that was raised exactly 47 years ago yesterday. Ngawang was a founding member of what, in grand government euphemism, is known as Establishment 22.
The story of this still-secret regiment, however, reads like a set of Catch 22 situations.
Though it was raised to fight the Chinese army in Tibet, it has fought in several theatres of war except that one. It’s so classified a set-up that even the army may not know what it’s up to — it reports directly to the prime minister via the directorate general of security in the cabinet secretariat; so the gallantry of its soldiers cannot be publicly recognised. It’s supposed to be a group of volunteers; but all school-passing Tibetan children not making a certain grade are still expected to join it.
Jawaharlal Nehru took the decision to raise the force on his birthday in 1962. It was also the day the war with China resumed on the eastern front after a brief lull. On the advice of Intelligence Bureau founder-director Bhola Nath Mullick and World War II veteran Biju Patnaik, Nehru ordered the raising of a Tibetan guerrilla force that could engage the Chinese in the uber-tough terrains of the Himalayas.
Sitting in his house on the Yamuna, Ngawang says that it was early 1963 when the first batch of about 12,000 Tibetans was brought to Chakrata, 100 km from Dehradun. Former armyman Sujan Singh Uban was the first inspector-general tasked with turning these rugged highlanders into fierce fighters — with substantial help from the CIA. The group took its intriguing name after the 22 Mountain Regiment that Uban had fought for during WWII.
Since then, the regiment — also called the Special Frontier Force (SFF) — has participated with exemplary skill in Operation Eagle (securing Chittagong hills during the Bangladesh War of 1971, where 46 soldiers of the regiment died), Operation Bluestar (clearing Amritsar’s Golden Temple in 1984), Operation Meghdoot (securing the Siachen glacier in 1984) and Operation Vijay (war with Pakistan at Kargil in 1999).
Some reports later claimed that SFF’s mandate had been changed to include anti-terrorist operations. But Vikram Sood, director of the Research & Analysis Wing during 2001-03, and B. Raman, additional secretary in the security wing of the cabinet secretariat during 1988-94, deny any change from the original mandate.
The total number of soldiers, though, has changed — swelling to about 20,000 around 1970 and then whittling down to below 10,000. It’s difficult to know the exact count at present because of the tight lid of secrecy.
The lid was, however, blown in 1978. Indian newspapers reported that an electronic intelligence machine passed on by the CIA and mounted atop Nanda Devi in 1965 to track Chinese missile tests had gone missing. The bigger worry was over the plutonium generator that powered the machine. As Prime Minister Morarji Desai assured a worried Parliament on nuclear safety, the mention of SFF, that had mostly manned the operation, slipped out.
Captain Manmohan Singh Kohli, 78, adviser to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (then called the Frontier Rifles) who led the operation, says, “The SFF men were real tough… Once, when we were building a helipad a large rock had to be removed. It needed seven men to lift — even six wouldn’t do. Then, one of the SFF guys said, ‘Put it on my back.’ And he alone carried it about 15 feet and threw it.”
Commandant Dinesh Tewari, 68, a former Gurkha regiment captain who put thousands of SFF soldiers through a gruelling 44-week commando course during 1969-75, says, “They can survive in any condition… On some winter mornings I would watch some of them taking chilly water into their mouth, warming it, and then spitting it out to wash their face.”
But for all their hardship and valour, SFF men and women have got little official recognition.
Ngawang, who retired as a Dapon (equivalent of a brigadier), the top rank among SFF’s Tibetans, in 1976, says, “We were promised medals after Bangladesh, but never got them — only some cash, that too a few thousands.” On retirement he got Rs. 19,000. He and his wife Dechen, who trained for SFF’s women’s wing, have sold sweaters and run restaurants to make ends meet.
Some other ex-members, too, run shops in Dharamshala or Delhi. Many more others bide their last years at an old-age home in Dehradun.
Only recently have a few SFF soldiers been given gallantry awards for Siachen and Kargil. Payscales, too, have been made to match those in the army. A serving soldier reports that a few months ago, for the first time, the government promised them pensions.
But a soldier wants recognition, too. Captain Kohli, who was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva medal, says, “I was conferred the AVSM by the Navy, because it was a covert operation… I am sure the SFF men get recognition and awards within their own system.” Just that nobody is saying how.