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Special> China's Tibet: Facts & Figures> Beijing Review Archives> 1959
UPDATED: May 8, 2008 NO. 15, 1959
Photocopies of the Originals: The Dalai Lama's Three Letters to General Tan Kuan-san

The originals of the three letters from the Dalai Lama in his own handwriting, before he was abducted from Lhasa on the night of March 17, have been brought to Peking from Lhasa. They were photographed and released for publication by the Hsinhua News Agency on April 7.  The letters are addressed to General Tan Kuan-san, acting representative of the Central People's Government in Tibet and political commissar of the Tibet Military Area Command.

One letter written personally by the Dalai Lama to General Tan Kuan-san on March 1I is written with a pen in blue ink under the Tibetan translation of General Tan Kuan-san's letter to the Dalai Lama dated March 10. This is the letter, which the Dalai Lama referred to in his second letter, forwarded through Ngapo Ngawang-Jigme.

The letters written personally by the Dalai Lama dated March 12 and 16 and addressed to General Tan Kuan-san are written with black pencil on white letter paper made of thin wood-free printing paper.

In the three letters, the Dalai Lama explained that the clique of Tibetan traitors on the pretext of protecting his safety, was engaged in activities endangering himself, was creating incidents seriously estranging relations between the central and local authorities, that he was doing his best to deal with the matter and was giving instructions to officials of the Tibetan local government. On the day following the sending of his third letter (dated March 16) namely, on the night of March 17, the traitors abducted the Dalai Lama from Lhasa. On the night of March 19, they launched a general attack against the units of the People's Liberation Army garrisoned in Lhasa.

The English translations of the letters exchanged between the Dalai Lama and General Tan Kuansan were published in "Peking Review" (No. 13) on March 31, 1959--Ed,

The Dalai Lama's First Letter

This letter dated March 11 is written with a pen in blue ink under the Tibetan translation of General Tan's letter of March 10 to the Dalai Lama. General Tan's letter reads from the first line of the page to the first part of the tenth line. From the second half of the tenth line to the bottom of the page is the Dalai Lama's letter written by himself. The original measures 26.3 cm. * 18.7 cm.

English Translation: Dear Comrade Political Commissar Tan,

I intended to go to the Military Area Command to see the theatrical performance yesterday, but I was unable to do so, because of obstruction by people, lamas and laymen, who were instigated by a few evil elements and who did not know the facts; this has put me to indescribable shame. I am greatly upset and worried and at a loss what to do. I was immediately greatly delighted when your letter (this refers to the letter sent by General Tan Kuan-san to the Dalai Lama on the 10th--Ed.) appeared before me--you do not mind at all.

Reactionary, evil elements are carrying out activities endangering me under the pretext of ensuring my safety. I am taking measures to calm things down In a few days when the situation becomes stable, I will certainly meet you. If you have any internal directives for me, please communicate them to me frankly through this messenger (this refers to Ngapo Ngawang-Jigme--Ed.).

The Dalai Lama,

written by my own hand

The Dalai Lama's Second Letter

This letter dated March 12 is written by the Dalai Lama himself with a pencil. The original measures 27.3 cm.× 21.2 cm.

English Translation: Dear Comrade Political Commissar Tan,

I suppose you have received my letter of yesterday (March 11--Ed.) forwarded to you by Ngapo. I have received the letter you sent me this morning. The unlawful activities of the reactionary clique cause me endless worry and sorrow. Yesterday I told the kasha to order the immediate dissolution of the illegal people's conference and the immediate withdrawal. of the reactionaries who arrogantly moved into the Norbu Lingka under the pretext of protecting me. As to the incidents of yesterday and the day before, which were brought about under the pretext of ensuring my safety and have seriously estranged relations between the Central People's Government and the local government. I am making every possible effort to deal with them. At eight thirty Peking time this morning a few Tibetan army men suddenly fired several shots near the Chinghai-Tibet Highway. Fortunately, no serious disturbance occurred. I am planning to persuade a few subordinates and give them instructions.

Please communicate to me frankly any instructive opinions you have for me.

The Dalai

March 12

The Dalai Lama's Third Letter

This letter dated March 16 is written by the Dalai Lama himself with a pencil. The original measures 27.3 cm. × 21.2 cm.

English Translation: Dear Comrade Political Commissar Tan,

Your letter dated the 15th has just been received at three o'clock. I am very glad that you are so concerned about my safety and hereby express my thanks.

The day before yesterday, the fifth day of the second month according to the Tibetan calendar (March 14, 1959--Eal.), I made a speech to more than seventy representatives of the government officials, instructing them from various angles, calling on them to consider seriously present and long-term interests and to calm down, otherwise my life would be in danger. After these severe reproaches, things took a slight turn for the better. Though the conditions here and outside are still very difficult to handle at present, I am trying tactfully to draw a line separating the progressive people among the government officials from those opposing the revolution. In a few days from now when there are enough forces that I can trust I shall make my way in secret to the Military Area Command. When that time comes, I shall first send you a letter. I request you to adopt reliable measures. What are your views? Please write me often.

The Dalai

March 16

(This article appears on page 8, No. 15, 1959)

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