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The Dalai Lama Cables: Follow the Money

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Part 1 reveals how despite having tens of millions of dollars worth of gold stored in banks in Calcutta, the Dalai Lama successfully pleaded poverty to the United States government and secured a tax-free hand out of $180,000 per annum from 1959 onwards reveals how despite having tens of millions of dollars worth of gold stored in banks in Calcutta, the Dalai Lama successfully pleaded poverty to the United States government and secured a tax-free hand out of $180,000 per annum from 1959 onwards.reveals that in addition to receiving money from the CIA, the Dalai Lama had been negotiating with the Soviets for financial assistance. It alsoreveals that the US congress continues to financially support the Dalai Lama, and the CIA subsidy has been replaced by National Endowment for Democracy funding.

Recently declassified US State Department cables reveal the workings of the Dalai Lama and his inner circle.Throughout the 1950s the Dalai Lama negotiated with the US government for military and financial assistance. In the State Department document „United States Policy Concerning the Legal Status of Tibet


1956‟, a summary of the US government‟s response is given: „The United States was prepared to provide light arms, but it was not prepared to pay the expenses of the Dalai Lama and his retinue if they sought asylum abroad, because it assumed that the Dalai Lama had enough treasure to pay his own expenses.‟ When the Dalai Lama finally did flee Tibet in early 1959, he sent his brother, Gyalo Thondup, to ask for financial and military assistance. Gyalo Thondup let it be known that:„The Dalai Lama did not bring out any treasures from Tibet and conse quently was very hard up financially‟.

The declassified documents show that the Dalai Lama received a personal subsidy from the US government a covert payment arranged by the CIA of 180,000 US Dollars per year from 1959 through till at least 1974. To put this in a modern context 180,000 dollars in the 1950s would be worth nearly 1.5 million today, and 180,000 dollars in the seventies would be worth nearly 800,000 today. Considering the US intended not to support the Dalai Lama financially that's a pretty generous subsidy to have squeezed out of them.An alternative version of the „no treasure brought from Tibet‟ story can be found in The Struggle for Modern Tibet: The Autobiography of Tashi Tsering on pages 57 58:„In 1950, when it had seemed like a Chinese invasion was imminent, the Dalai Lama's substantial stocks of gold and silver had been transported out of the country to safety in Sikkim. During the 1950s, though the Dalai Lama himself was in Tibet, the gold and silver remained in one of the storehouses of the maharaja of Sikkim.

The Chinese had asked for its return but had not made an issue of it at the time. Following the Lhasa Uprising and the flight of the Dalai Lama, they claimed that the money was not the Dalai Lama's personal fortune but belonged to the country which they now considered to belong to them. At that point the Tibetan leaders decided it was time to secure their treasure more permanently and farther away from the border; and because of my association with Gyalola [Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama‟s brother], I found myself involved. It was quite an operation.‟ „The gold and silver were in the form of coins and ingots.

When I became involved, the gold and silver were being hand loaded onto trucks in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, and driven south to Siliguri, the location of the nearest airstrip. At the airport the literally millions of dollars' worth of gold were loaded onto Dakota cargo planes and flown to Calcutta.‟„When this precious cargo reached Calcutta, the gold was immediately put into the banks. But for a while the silver was stored in a single room on the third floor of a trusted Tibetan merchant's house. It was my responsibility to stand guard over it, and for nearly a month I stood sentinel in a silent room full of coins and odd pieces of silver.‟It is estimated that the Dalai Lama had nearly 5 tons of solid gold at his disposa in India. For a man with tens of millions of dollars in the bank to successfully plead poverty to the United States government is quite a feat.

Admittedly, the Dalai Lama had left the bulk of his fortune back in Lhasa for example, in the west chapel of the Potala Palace there is a tomb with nearly 5 tons of solid gold encasing it there‟s no need to mention the thousands of other golden statues, tombs and works of art.

This rather clever con trick wasn‟t the only time the Dalai Lama rolled the US over,

In part one, we showed how despite having tens of millions of dollars worth of gold stored in banks in Calcutta, the Dalai Lama successfully pleaded poverty to the United States government and secured a tax-free hand out of $180,000 per annum from 1959 onwards.

By the 60s, however, some in the US administration were questioning the wisdom of these payments to the Dalai Lama, and the on going financial support of the Tibetan refugees. One illustration of this is the response to a letter from the Dalai Lama to the US President in late 1966, where the Dalai Lama mentions his plan to resettle with 400 Tibetans in the United States... with the apparent assumption that the US government will foot the $425,000 bill for this. The response is straight forward: „No USG funds are available‟.

Subsequent cables reveal an interesting development. In 1969, the Dalai Lama‟s personal representative Lodi Gyari lets the Americans know that the Dalai Lama has been negotiating with the Soviets [at that time the sworn enemy of the United States] for financial assistance. „Lodi concluded by stating that the Dalai Lama and he would much prefer to take American financial assistance and he hoped I would give the matter close attention, for they had to get help from somewhere.‟ An exquisite hustle by anyone‟s standards.Furthermore, in his report to the State Department, the US Ambassador noted, with some alarm, how during a recent public lecture:„The Dalai Lama emphasized that he did not oppose communism, or for that matter any “isms” in particular. He declared that an independent Tibet could have a communist government or any other form supported by the majority of the people. What Tibetans opposed was foreign domination. In the current context, these remarks would appear to have been primarily directed towards Moscow.‟

Imagine the horror back in Washington at the prospect of their trump card in the global propaganda war against communism switching sides -swapping the CIA for the KGB, and happily inviting communist rule in Tibet.Needless to say, funding for the Dalai Lama was granted, and his CIA support renewed at the next review in 1971, and again in the following years. The US congress continues to financially support the Dalai Lama, and the CIA subsidy has been replaced by National Endowment for Democracy funding. As Professor Sautman reports:The United States is at least the second-largest donor, after India, to the TGIE, providing $2 million in “humanitarian aid” annually and may be the largest donor.

Since 2004 it has given the exiles $4 million annually and provided $5.25 million for “Tibetan community assistance” in 2008. The U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) supplies additional funds.

The group‟s founding president, Allen Weinstein, has said, “A lot of what [the NED does] today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Notes:

M. Kripalani, “World Watches India‟s Response to Tibet,” Business Week (India), March 

21, 2008. Most TGIE income is from Western state grants. In 2006–7, grants totaled US $17.5 million. “Rinpoche Defies China as Tibet‟s Prime Minister Based in India,” Bloomberg, April


TGIE and Tibetan exiles in India (three -fourths of whom do not work) on external financial support. The TGIE has said its annual budget is $700,000, leaving substantial funds for internationalization activities; Velloor, “Tibetan Exiles Keep the Fight Alive.” 110. Thomas Lam, “U.S. - Funded Assistance Programs in China,” Congressional Research Service RS22663 (January 28, 2008). An official Chinese news source has reported that the US Congress appropriated US$2.4 million for Tibetan exile organizationsin 2009, up by 25 percent over 2008. Almost 89 percent of the TGIE‟s 2005 revenues derived from foreign aid and it has annually spent 30 – 40 percent of its funds on projects related to the Tibet Question and representation abroad. Yi Duo, “Dalai Lama bianshen „yao qian shu‟ Liancai zhi shu bei meiti baoguang (“The Dalai Lama has been changed into one „shaking the money tree‟: techniques of accumulating wealth by unfair means exposed by media”), Huangqiu Shibao [Global Times], June 19, 2009,

Dalai Lama Money The Dalai Lama Cables: Follow the Money Addendum

In the aftermath of the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees were inundated with aid in the form of money, food, clothing, blankets, medicines, land, accommodation, livestock and so forth.Many international charities, such as The Red Cross, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, The National Christian Council, the American Friends Service Committee, the American Emergency Committee for Tibetan Refugees and others, gave extensively. Many national governments, such as the UK, France, Canada, New Zealand, the US and especially India gave generously to the Tibetan cause. In the over fifty years since the Chinese invasion, the plight of the Tibetans rarely leaves media attention for long. It has become without doubt one of the most successful on going fund raising campaigns ever, drawing millions and millions of dollars in donations, merchandise and event tickets each year.

Where has all the money gone? What has it been used for? When Australian journalist Michael Backman tried to discover the answer to these fundamental questions he found: „Details of the government in exile's funding today are far from clear.‟„It is not clear how donations enter its budgeting. These are likely to run to many millions annually, but the Dalai Lama's Department of Finance provided no explicit acknowledgment of them or of their sources.‟

„Certainly, there are plenty of rumours among expatriate Tibetans of endemic corruption and misuse of monies collected in the name of the Dalai Lama.‟ In part one of this series of articles we quoted from Tashi Tsering‟s autobiography, before helping Gyalo Thondup transport the Dalai Lama‟s treasure from Sikkim to Calcutta, whilst back in Lhasa before the Chinese invasion, he had worked in the treasury of the Tibetan government. He recounts his experiences there (p63 of the autobiography):„I was still disillusioned and angry about what I had seen going on in the treasury office in Lhasa. The ordinary people sent their taxes and tribute in the form of money and goods, and both monk and lay officials just took what they wanted. There were ledgers filled with accounts of tea bricks, butter, cloth, gold, and silver. I saw the records that showed that the more powerful monks, especially those from aristocratic families and the Dalai Lama's household, "borrowed" any of these things they wished and never returned them. There was no overall record, no auditing. The officials and their friends and family could come in and take anything they fancied. I saw them doing so with my own eyes.


Tashi Tsering was offered a position in the newly formed Tibetan-Government in Exile, but turned it down:„I felt that going to work for the exiled aristocrats and monks would have meant going to work to restore the same old system.‟Could this be the answer to Michael Backman‟s questions? Could this be where the money went? In his pursuit of answers, Backman, uncovered some more inconvenient truths:„Like many Asian politicians, the Dalai Lama has been remarkably nepotistic, appointing members of his family to many positions of prominence. In recent years, three of the six members of the Kashag, or cabinet, the highest executive branch of the Tibetan government in exile, have been close relatives of the Dalai Lama.‟

„An older brother served as chairman of the Kashag and as the minister of security. He also headed the CIA backed Tibetan contra movement in the 1960s.‟ „A sister in law served as head of the government in exile's planning council and its Department of Health.‟ „A younger sister served as health and education minister and her husband served as head of the government in exile's Department of Information and International Relations.‟

„Their daughter was made a member of the Tibetan parliament in exile. A younger brother has served as a senior member of the private office of the Dalai Lama and his wife has served as education minister.‟ „The second wife of a brother in law serves as the representative of the Tibetan government in exile for northern Europe and head of international relations for the government inexile. All these positions give the Dalai Lama's family access to millions of dollars collected on behalf of the government inexile.‟


In the aftermath of the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees were inundated with aid in the form of money, food, clothing,blankets, medicines, land, accommodation, livestock and so forth.

Many international charities, such as The Red Cross, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, The National Christian Council, the American Friends Service Committee, the American Emergency Committee for Tibetan Refugees and others, gave extensively.

Many national governments, such as the UK, France, Canada, New Zealand, the US and especially India gave generously to the Tibetan cause.In the over fifty years since the Chinese invasion, the plight of the Tibetans rarely leaves media attention for long. It has become without doubt one of the most successful on going fund -raising campaigns ever, drawing millions and millions of dollars in donations, merchandise and eventtickets each year. Where has all the money gone? What has it been used for?

When Australian journalist Michael Backman tried to discover the answer to these fundamental questions he found:„Details of the government in exile's funding today are far from clear.‟„It is not clear how donations enter its budgeting. These are likely to run to many millions annually, but the Dalai Lama's Department of Finance provided no explicit acknowledgment of them or of their sources.‟„Certainly, there are plenty of rumours among expatriate Tibetans of endemic corruption and misuse of monies collected in the name of the Dalai Lama.

‟In part one of this series of articles we quoted from Tashi Tsering‟s autobiography, before helping Gyalo Thondup transport the Dalai Lama‟s treasure from Sikkim to Calcutta, whilst back in Lhasa before the Chinese invasion, he had worked in the treasury of the Tibetan government. He recounts his experiences there (p63 of the autobiography):„I was still disillusionedand angry about what I had seen going on in the treasury office in Lhasa. The ordinary people sent their taxes and tribute in the form of money and goods, and both monk and lay officials just took what they wanted.

There were ledgers filled with accounts of tea bricks, butter, cloth, gold, and silver. I saw the records that showed that the more powerful monks, especially those from aristocratic families and the Dalai Lama's household, "borrowed" any of these things they wished and never returned them. There was no overall record, no auditing. The officials and their friends and family could come in and take anything they fancied. I saw them doing so with my own eyes.‟

Tashi Tsering was offered a position in the newly formed Tibetan Government in Exile, but turned it down: „I felt that going to work for the exiled aristocrats and monks would have meant going to work to restore the same old system.

‟Could this be the answer to Michael Backman‟s questions? Could this be where the money went? In his pursuit of answers, Backman, uncovered some more inconvenient truths:„Like many Asian politicians, the Dalai Lama has been remarkably nepotistic, appointing members of his family to many positions of prominence. In recent years, three of the six members of the Kashag, or cabinet, the highest executive branch of the Tibetan government in exile, have been close relatives of the Dalai Lama.

‟„An older brother served as chairman of the Kashag and as the minister of security. He also headed the CIA backed Tibetan contra movement in the 1960s.‟ „A sister in law served as head of the government in exile's planning council and its Department of Health.‟„A younger sister served as health and education minister and her husband served as head of the government in exile's Department of Information and International Relations

.‟„Their daughter was made a member of the Tibetan parliament in exile. A younger brother has served as a senior member of the private office of the Dalai Lama and his wife has served as education minister.‟

„The second wife of a brother in law serves as the representative of the Tibetan government in exile for northern Europe and head of international relations for the government in exile. All these positions give the Dalai Lama's family access to millions of dollars collected on behalf of the government in exile.‟

In the aftermath of the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees were inundated with aid in the form of money, food, clothing,blankets, medicines, land, accommodation, livestock and so forth.

Many international charities, such as The Red Cross, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, The National Christian Council, the American Friends Service Committee, the American Emergency Committee for Tibetan Refugees and others, gave extensively.Many national governments, such as the UK, France, Canada, New Zealand, the USand especially India gave generously to the Tibetan cause.In the over fifty years since the Chinese invasion, the plight of the Tibetans rarely leaves media attention for long. It has become without doubt one of the most successful ongoing fund raising campaigns ever, drawing millions and millions of dollars in donations, merchandise and event tickets each year.

Source

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