ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Revolt of The Khampas.

Editorial from Volume XI, No 13, March 28, 1959.

The difficulty of discussing the situation that is said to have arisen in Tibet is that there are far too many gaps in our knowledge of the events there at the present time. There is, of course, a good deal of rumour. Indeed, too much of it. But hard, indisputable facts, on which sound judgment could be based, are few. All that is known is that fighting has been going on between the Chinese and the Tibetans, and that starting from the eastern region it has spread out to Lhasa. But what is the scale of the revolt? How long has it been going on? What is its cause? Are the Chinese really to blame? If so, what is the nature of their offence? Is the Dalai Lama safe? Is he in prison? If he is, why? On none of these crucial points is any dependable information available. And in the absence of this information, comment must very much grope in the dark.

Mr George N Patterson, the British correspondent in Kalimpong who had to be cautioned by the Indian Government against sensationalism, has done little to help matters. The small town of Kalimpong on the Indo-Tibetan border is perhaps the worst place to report Tibet from. It abounds in more or less discredited Tibetan emigres who have a strong vested interest in spreading the wildest possible rumours against Peking, and never fail to do so. They have allies in Khatmandu, where many traders have been put out of business – the business, that is, of looting the ignorant Tibetan in the name of trade – by some overdue steps taken by the Chinese. It is on such sources that Patterson has relied for his information, with the result that he has overstated the situation so grossly that one is tempted to reject it entirely.

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