In Tibet, any sign of loyalty to the Dalai Lama can be met with arrests, lengthy sentences, torture and ‘re-education’ programmes. Despite 70 years of China’s oppressive occupation, Tibetans remain fiercely loyal to their spiritual leader.
Tibet has a rich history as a nation, existing side-by-side with China for centuries. In 1950, the newly established Chinese Communist regime decided that Tibet must become a permanent part of the People’s Republic of China and launched an invasion.
For China, possessing Tibet gave access to rich natural resources and allowed it to militarise the strategically important border with India. With 40,000 Chinese troops in its sparsely populated country, the Tibetan government – led by the still teenaged Dalai Lama – was forced to recognise China’s rule in return for promises to protect Tibet’s political system and Tibetan Buddhism.
China failed to keep its promises and ongoing Tibetan resistance came to a head on 10 March 1959. Hundreds of thousands of Tibetans surrounded the Potala Palace in Lhasa fearing that the Dalai Lama was about to be kidnapped or assassinated. The uprising was brutally suppressed and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee into exile.
The 10th of March is now commemorated as National Uprising Day by Tibetans and supporters across the world.
To this day Tibet remains an independent state under illegal occupation.
Tibet in the last century
This timeline takes you through key events in Tibet’s recent history, including China’s 1950 invasion, the Tibetan Uprising of 1959 and the intense protests in 2008.
Tibet from 602 to 1904
This timeline will provide you with further insight into important events in Tibet’s older history, including the Mongol invasions and the origins of the Dalai Lama lineage.