Tibet Snow Lion
free tibet
Tibet Snow Lion


The Issues (key dates below) (or see pictorial history)

Genocide and human rights
Since 1950, an estimated 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed by the Chinese. Records of the Tibetan Government in Exile show that between 1949 and 1979 the following deaths occurred:

173,221 Tibetans died after being tortured in prison.
156,758 Tibetans have been executed by the Chinese.
432,705 Tibetans were killed while fighting Chinese soldiers.
342,970 Tibetans have starved to death.
92,731 Tibetans publicly tortured to death.
9,002 Tibetans committed suicide.

Since then many thousands more have died as a direct result of persecution, imprisonment, torture and beatings.(see Testimonies and Articles).

China has ratified a number of UN conventions, including those related torture and racial discrimination, and yet has repeatedly violated these in China and Tibet

Chinese has replaced Tibetan as the official language. Young Tibetans are being re-educated about their cultural past, with references to an independent Tibet being omitted.

Lack of religious freedom
The 1982 Constitution of the People's Republic of China guarantees freedom of religious belief, but China seeks to restrict the numbers of monks and nuns entering monasteries and to discredit the religious authority of Dalai Lama. The child recognised as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama was rejected and the Chinese installed their own candidate.

Resource exploitation
China's predominant interest in Tibet is no longer ideological, but is based on resource extraction and land for Chinese colonists. Mining and mineral extraction is the largest economic activity in both U'Tsang and Amdo and at least one-half of Tibet's natural forest has gone since Chinese occupation.
For further information, see *Environmental Damage in Tibet

Chinese migration
Long-term Chinese settlement in Tibet has been deliberately encouraged, with the result that Tibetans are in the minority in many areas. Independent research puts the number of Chinese in the TAR at 55.5 million versus 4.5 million Tibetans; in Kham and Amdo, Chinese outnumber Tibetans many times over. Chinese traders are favoured by lower tax assessments and the dominant position of Chinese in government administration. See further information at
*Discrimination against Tibetans

China Tibet Map

china invasion of Tibet
map is from International Tibet Independence Movement (this is a website link)

Key dates

Radio Beijing announce that: "The task of the People's Liberation Army for 1950 is to liberate Tibet." 40,000 battle-hardened Chinese troops invade Tibet in October, unprovoked and with no accepted legal basis for claims of sovereignty. They quickly crush Tibet's token army. Fifteen year-old Tenzin Gyatso given full powers to rule as the 14th Dalai Lama - the Tibetans' spiritual and temporal leader.

China undertakes 17-Point Agreement to refrain from interfering with Tibet's government and society following negotiation by the Dalai Lama.

Mao Zedong promises the Dalai Lama that the Chinese will leave Tibet once 'liberation' is complete.

National Uprising - explosion of Tibetan resistance resulting in severe crackdown by the Chinese and widespread brutality. An estimated 430,000 Tibetans are killed (Chinese estimate: 87,000 killed). One hundred thousand Tibetans flee with Dalai Lama into exile in India.

1960 - 1962
340,000 Tibetan peasants and nomads die in Tibet's first recorded famines following the destabilisation of the economy after an influx of Chinese settlers and forced agricultural modernisation.

Chinese formally inaugurate one of Tibet's three provinces as the 'Tibet Autonomous Region' (TAR). (See map below.)

Thousands of Buddhist monasteries destroyed and tens of thousands of Tibetans sent to labour camps during the Cultural Revolution.

The Dalai Lama starts to make political speeches abroad and international support for Tibet starts to grow.

chinese occupation of Tibet
map is from the Free Tibet Campaign

free Tibet from chinese occupation
map is from Tibetan Nuns Project website

Tibetans begin a new era of protest. Since 1990, the number of political prisoners has doubled.

The Dalai Lama puts forward the 'Strasbourg proposal' in which he calls for "genuine autonomy" for Tibet rather than independence. The following year the Dalai Lama receives the Nobel Peace Prize.

Six year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognised by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama, and his family disappear. China selects and enthrones another child. Gedhun's location and safety remain unknown.

China launches a patriotic re-education campaign, removing photos of the Dalai Lama from monasteries.

The 40th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising marked by protest in Lhasa.

The 17th Karmapa flees Tibet.

We use the term 'Tibet' to refer to the three original provinces of U'sang, Kham and Amdo (sometimes called Greater Tibet). When the Chinese refer to Tibet, they invariably mean the Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR, which includes only U'sang. Amdo and Kham were re-named by the Chinese as the province of Qinghai and as parts of Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces, respectively.