Lhalu Tsewang Dorjee

Lhalu Tsewang Dorjee (Tibetan: ལྷ་ཀླུ་ཚེ་དབང་རྡོ་རྗེ་; Chinese: 拉鲁·次旺多吉; pinyin: Lālǔ Cìwàng Duōjí) (born 1913), commonly known as Lhalu, Lhalu Se, or Lhalu Shape, is a Tibetan aristocrat and politician who has held a variety of positions in various Tibetan governments before and after 1951.Early years

Lhalu’s father was Lungsharwa Dorjee Tsegyel, an influential official in the Lhasa government and a favourite of the 13th Dalai Lama‘s.[1] His mother was Yangdzon Tsering, the Shatra family’s youngest daughter, with whom Lungshar had been having an affair.[2]

Lungshar was born into a small noble family whose ancestors lived in Tana of the Tsang region at the time of the 5th Dalai Lama. He is famous for taking four noble youths – “the Rugby Four” – to the United Kingdom to receive a modern education (for the first time in Tibet’s history).[3]

As a child, Lhalu attended a private school at the foot of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. He then went on to a school for children of secular officials at Jokhang monastery.[4]

Earlier official positions

Following the Dalai Lama’s death in 1934, Lungshar Dorje Tsegyel, a moderate reformist who advocated replacing lifelong tenure for the government ministers (Kalon) with a vote for a four-year term, was outmanœuvred by the more conservative minister Trimön; Lungshar was arrested and punished by blinding. All of Lungshar’s descendants were then banned from government service. Lhalu had entered government service as a boy in 1927, but he was dismissed from his position after his father’s arrest.[5]

Lhalu was later adopted into the wealthy family of Lungshar’s common law wife, the Lhalu family,[6][7] which lacked a male heir. By making the public claim that Lungshar was not his biological father, and by applying in the name of Lhalu se and paying large bribes,[8] he was able to become an official again in 1937, after which he became increasingly influential. The Lhalu family had attained nobility by producing two incarnations of the Dalai Lama[9][10][11] but did not belong to the old nobility that traces back its lineage to ancient Tibetan kings.[12]

In 1940, Lhalu married a daughter of the Labrang Nyingpa (Thonpa) family. In 1941, he was promoted to 4th rank and made a tsepön.[13]

In 1946, he was appointed a shape, i.e. a member of cabinet, by the regent, Taktra.[14] He played an active role in the arrest of the former regent, Reting Rinpoche, when Reting was charged with attempting to assassinate Taktra.

Governor of Kham

Shortly after the Reting incident, Lhalu was appointed governor of Kham, with his headquarters in Chamdo. He was serving in this position in 1949 when the People’s Republic of China consolidated its control of China proper and began a build-up of troops in the provinces bordering Tibet. Lhalu began preparations to resist Chinese forces, but he was replaced by Ngabö Ngawang Jigme before the invasion actually occurred.

Robert W. Ford’s testimony

In his book Captured in Tibet, Robert W. Ford, a former British radio operator in Kham, portrays Lhalu “as typical of the more progressive Tibetan officials. They knew they were backward, and genuinely wanted to learn and to modernize their country – so long as no harm was done to their religion.” Although Lhalu had never left Tibet (unlike his father, who “was one of the very few Tibetans who ever went to Britain”), he “was keenly interested in the outside world and studied the pictures in [Ford’s] illustrated magazines. He wanted to know about tractors and other agricultural machinery and about industrial processes in the West.”[15]

Commander-in-chief of the 1959 uprising

Lhalu returned to Lhasa in July 1951. After Tibet was incorporated into the People’s Republic of China, the Tibetan government was reorganised. He was dismissed from government service in May 1952 (on account of his maladministration of Kham during his tenure as Governor) but was allowed to retain his rank.

In 1955, he headed a delegation to Beijing and met Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai.[16]

In 1957, he was appointed « governor of the grain supply ».[17]

According to American journalist and Marxist writer Anna Louise Strong, unlike some of the sincere signers of the 17-point agreement, Lhalu continued plotting for Tibet’s secession from China.[18]

In 1959, he participated in the Tibetan uprising, and would later describe himself as having been the commander-in-chief of the rebel forces.[19]

He was captured, subjected to struggle sessions (known in Tibetan as thamzing), and imprisoned in Drapchi Prison.[20]

At a mass meeting of ten thousand people in Lhasa circa 1959, he was implicated in the murders of former Regent Reting and living Buddha Geda, both supposedly sympathetic to the Chinese.[21] He narrowly escaped being beaten up thanks to the protection of PLA soldiers.[22]

Anna Louise Strong’s testimony

In 1959, Anna Louise Strong was allowed to travel to Tibet to report on the political situation there. In a book published the following year, When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet, she described a hearing on Lhalu’s treatment of his local serfs organized by the Fourth Inhabitants’ Committee of the Western District of Lhasa. Lhalu, then 43 years old, was to reply to the accusations levelled at him by former serfs and slaves from one of his 24 manorial estates: mistreatment, non respect of his peasants and servants’ rights, imprisonment in the manor’s jail. Lhalu is forced to admit that he had been “too harsh”, had “a touchy temper”, had “made mistakes” or “gone to excess”. The accusation meeting ends with the burning of his titles of debts (All “feudal debts” had been outlawed by the resolution passed July 17 by the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region).[23]

Political Rehabilitation

After he was set free on special amnesty in 1965, Lhalu took up farming.[24]

With Deng Xiaoping’s return to office and the abandonment of the class-struggle line,[25] he was given a job in 1977 and was eventually politically rehabilitated in 1983,[26] becoming one of the vice-chairmen of the Tibetan Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.[27]

Political stances

He has praised the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet and has been strongly critical of the old Tibetan government and of the Dalai Lama. He said in an interview, “I have become disappointed with the Dalai Lama,” and “[h]e does not behave like a reincarnated living Buddha but is a stooge of the Westerners.”[28]

According to English writer Patrick French, in 1999 he took his distance from the official rhetoric, indicating that he was missing his former friends and that he wished the return of the Dalai Lama: “There is a Tibetan saying: ‘Old bird misses forests and old people miss hometown’. I sincerely wish the Fourteenth Dalai Lama will return, in the interests of the motherland, at an early date and join us in socialist construction.”[29]

Lhalu’s recollections of his life appear in his book, Recalling the Road I Took.

His children

He has one daughter and five sons (three of which are reincarnated living Buddhas).[30][31] In 2003, his son Gyai’ra Losang Dainzin (Jagra Lobsang Tenzin) became vice-chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region government.[32]

His published work

  • Recalling the Road I Took (published both in Tibetan and Chinese; does not seem to have been translated into English)
  • Recollections of My Father Dorje Tsegye Lungshar, Cultural and Historical Materials Office
  • Collected Materials of Literature and History in Tibet, a multi-volume compilation he has spent much of his time editing and publishing[33]
  • The Purple Kasaya, coll. Tibetan People (2/4) (DVD)[34]

On September 24, 2011, Lhalu Tsewang Dorjee died in Lhasa at the age of 97.

Contributed by wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lhalu_Tsewang_Dorje

Notes and references

  1. ^ According to the Xinhua press agency “he is the son of high-ranking Tibetan official appointed by the Qing emperor.”
  2. ^ Cirenyangzong, The aristocratic families in Tibetan history, op. cit., p. 23: “When Lungsharwa Dorje Tsegyel was giving full play to his political talent, Yangdzom Tsering became his intimate friend.”
  3. ^ Tsering Yangdzom, Shao Da, On the dominant Dalai Lama’s Yabgzhis families, China Tibet Information Center.
  4. ^ Tibetan Consultative Body Member Says Dalai Lama “Stooge of the Westerners”, Xinhua News Agency, 6 mars 1996.
  5. ^ Cirenyangzong, The aristocratic families in Tibetan history, op. cit., p. 24: “Lungsharwa Dorje Tsegyel, who was in the 13th’s favor, advocated abolishing lifelong tenure for the Galoin; instead, a ‘referendum’ should be held to vote the Galoin for a four-year term. Since his radical reform was targeted at the Gaxag – the supreme administrative organization of the local government, and thus encroached on the interests of the big nobility, after the 13th’s death Lungshar was removed from office and his eyes were gouged out. The government also issued orders that none of the Lungsharwa family’s offspring could inherit a noble title or have an official career.”
  6. ^ The Lhalu owned a magnificent mansion about one kilometer north of the Potala Palace. The three-story residence was originally built by the Tibetan government for Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Dalai Lama. See Tsering Yangdzom, Shao Da, On the dominant Dalai Lama’s Yabgshis’ families, China Tibetology.
  7. ^ Sir Charles Bell took a picture of it while on a mission to Lhasa in 1920-1921. It was published in his book The People of Tibet (Oxford, Clarendon Press) in 1928, with the caption Lha-lu Mansion. Reckoned by the Chinese as one of the five beauties of Lhasa. See The Tibet Album. British photography in Central Tibet 1920-1950.
  8. ^ Tsering Yangdzom, Shao Da, op. cit.: “Goldstein writes: ‘Lungshar’s’ son Lhalu later petitioned to be reinstated as a government official, arguing that he was not really Lungshar’s son. He claimed his biological father was Shekarlingpa, another aristocrat,and both his mother and Shekarlingpa swore that this was so. Using this rather feeble ploy (and massive bribes), he was reinstated under the family name of Lhalu and given the Seynamba status.”
  9. ^ Tibetan Consultative Body Member Says Dalai Lama “Stooge of the Westerners”, Xinhua News Agency, March 6, 1996.
  10. ^ Governmental Organization of Old Tibet: “From the seventh Dalai Lama to the 14th, seven families had been formed, such as the Lhangdun and Lhalu families.”
  11. ^ Cirenyangzong, The aristocratic families in Tibetan history, 五洲传播出版社, 2006, 272 p., ISBN 7508509374, ISBN 9787508509372, p. 18: “The Lhalu family has produced two Dalai Lamas – the 8th and the 12th Dalai Lama – as well as numerous reincarnated soul boys.”
  12. ^ Anna Louise Strong, When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet, New World Press, Beijing, 1960, chap. VIII Lhalu’s Serfs Accuse: “Lhalu’s family was not of the ‘old nobility’ in Tibet; it did not, like Apei’s (Ngabo Ngawang Jigme), trace lineage back a thousand years to ancient kings. It had produced the eighth and twelfth incarnations of the Dalai Lama and thus attained nobility.”
  13. ^ Lhalu Se, Tibet Album. British photography in Central Tibet 1920-1950 (entry from Who Was Who In Tibet? by Frank Drauschke).
  14. ^ Anna Louise Strong, When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet, op. cit., chap. VIII Lhalu(s Serfs Accuse: “He had been one of the six kaloons who made up the kashag, the local secular government under the Dalai Lama ; it was said that he had bribed the kashag in 1945 with two hundred and fifty thousand taels of silver for the post. He had then become both secretary and vice-chairman of the kashag at different times.”
  15. ^ Robert W. Ford, Captured in Tibet, p. 23.
  16. ^ Jiawei Wang, Nimajianzan, The historical status of China’s Tibet, China Hanban donation, 五洲传播出版社, 1997, 333 p. ISBN 7801133048, ISBN 9787801133045, p. 280.
  17. ^ Anna Louise Strong, When Serfs Stood Up, New World Press, Beijing, 1960, chap. VIII Lhalu’s Serfs Accuse: “He continued to hold high post in Tibet’s local government (..) and was governor of grain supply in 1957.”
  18. ^ Cf Anna Louise Strong, When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet, op. cit., chap. VIII Lhalu’s Serfs Accuse: “Some of the signers of the Agreement took it sincerely; Lhalu did not. (..) His plotting for Tibet’s secession from China continued; it had a history of years.”
  19. ^ Anna Louise Strong, When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet, op. cit., chap. VIII Lhalu’s Serfs Accuse: “Lhalu Tsewong-Dorje, commander-in-chief of the March rebellion in Lhasa.”
  20. ^ Palden Gyatso, Le feu sous la neige: “Drapchi housed some of Tibet’s most famous prisoners and dissidents. The prison was divided into five different brigades, or ruka. The fifth ruka housed all the former Tibetan government officials and high lamas, including Lobsang Tashi, the last prime minister of Tibet, and Lhalu, the former commander of the Tibetan army in eastern Tibet.”
  21. ^ Cf Anna Louise Strong, When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet, op. cit., chap. VIII Lhalu’s Serfs Accuse: “Recent accusations made before a mass meeting of ten thousand people in Lhasa had implicated him in the murder of Rabchen, the Dalai Lama’s first regent, and of the progressive Living Buddha Geda, both of whom opposed secession and had been killed for this not long before the liberation. Evidence of Lhalu’s participation had been filed with the courts and would be considered later.”
  22. ^ Jiawei Wang, Nyima Gyaincain, The historical status of China’s Tibet, op. cit., p. 280: “how the PLA soldiers protected him from being beaten at the mass rally.”
  23. ^ Anna Louise Strong, When Serfs Stood Up in Tibet, op. cit. chap. VII Lhalu’s Serfs Accuse : “The accusation meeting (…) was a local affair, a hearing on Lhalu’s treatment of his local serfs. It was being held under the Fourth Inhabitants’ Committee of the Western District of Lhasa. (…) It was clear that Lhalu, like other serf-owners, had a large number of nantsam, and that those who were house and stable slaves, being in frequent contact with their master, were quickly detected in misdemeanors and at once flogged, and sometimes also cast for periods of various lengths into the ‘private jail’ which all manorial estates maintained in their cellars. (…) At times some response was forced from Lhalu. On some charges he admitted that he had been ‘too harsh’, had ‘a touchy temper’, had ‘made mistakes’ or ‘gone to excess’. (..) Suddenly a loud shout rose like a war cry from the audience: ‘Burn the debts! Burn the debts!’ (…) Lhalu’s steward was bringing in the ‘titles of debts’. (…) All ‘feudal debts’ had been outlawed by the resolution passed July 17 by the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. (…) Matches were put to the pile (…) [Lhalu] gazed without expression at the fire which was burning away the documents of his feudal power. Then a few of the guards came to take him away. He went without handcuffs.”
  24. ^ Jiawei Wang, Nimajianzan, The historical status of China’s Tibet, op. cit., p. 280.
  25. ^ Wang Lixiong, Reflections on Tibet, in New Left Review 14, March–April 2002: “Under Deng, the class-struggle line was abandoned, and the old aristocrats, clan chiefs and lamas once again were invited to the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.”
  26. ^ Jiawei Wang, Nimajianzan, The historical status of China’s Tibet, op. cit., p. 280.
  27. ^ Wang Lixiong, Reflections on Tibet, op. cit.: “Lhalu Tsewang Dorje […] is currently a Vice Chairman of the regional Political Consultative Conference and is a member of its standing committee.”
  28. ^ Tibetan Consultative Body Member Says Dalai Lama “Stooge of the Westerners”, Xinhua News Agency, 6 mars 1996.
  29. ^ Patrick French, Tibet, Tibet: a personal history of a lost land, p. 178.
  30. ^ Tibetan Consultative Body Member Says Dalai Lama “Stooge of the Westerners”, op. cit.
  31. ^ Lhalu Tsewang Dorjee and Lhalu Sonam Dekyi’s progeny:
  • eldest daughter, Tsering Wangmo, married to Sampho Samdup Norbu ; they have four children: Paldon, Yangzom, Kalsang, Tseten gyurme
  • eldest son, Kunchok Gyaltsen, married to Kunsang Dechen, grand-daughter of Raja Tsodak Namgyal of Sikkim, later to become Taring in Tibet ; they have two sons, Lhalu Tseten Dorjee, Lhalu Dorjee Gyaltsen ;
  • second son, Jigme Namling Tana Rinpoche ;
  • third son, Jampa Tenzin Puchok Jamgon Rinpoche ;
  • fourth son, Lobsang Tenzin Chamdo Jagra Rinpoche ;
  • fifth son, Sithar Tsering, died in the 1980s.
  1. ^ Tibetans live with democracy for half century, China Tibet Information Center.
  2. ^ Tibetan Consultative Body Member Says Dalai Lama “Stooge of the Westerners”, op. cit.
  3. ^ “Through Lhalu’s account and precious historical footage, the film demonstrates the change a Tibetan family and the whole region have undergone.”
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