384. Telegram From the Embassy in India to the Department of State0

792. Department pass USUN. I called on Dalai Lama this morning at his request. After expression his great appreciation for kind and generous assistance rendered by Americans through Thomas Committee1 and other channels to refugees from his country and asking that his appreciation and that of his people be extended to those who had organized and contributed to this work, Dalai Lama observed that there were two or three points which he would like me communicate my Government. Condition of people in Tibet was growing steadily worse. For many months Dalai had hoped obtain some amelioration of their lot and solution of problem of his country by peaceful negotiation. GOI had had same hopes and had followed same course. It was now clear this method of procedure could not have any success. After very considerable thought Dalai had decided appeal to Supreme International body, United Nations.

Dalai Lama recalled that in 1950 Tibet had been invaded by China and that matter had been raised in United Nations.2 On representation of “certain countries” that settlement of problem could be reached by peaceful means, UN had deferred action. Settlement by peaceful means had not been possible and case therefore was still validly before UN.

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Dalai said that he hoped that USG would give every support to Tibetan case in UN and indeed that it would be willing sponsor Tibet’s case and try mobilize support for it. He said news reports had already indicated appeal which he had made on August 31 was receiving sympathetic consideration by USG and that he appreciated that.

I replied that I would communicate message to my Government at once and that although I had no specific instructions at moment I was sure that as he already knew, US believed that Tibetans should be heard in UN and would do everything possible to help bring this hearing about and support Tibetan cause in debate. We were also prepared talk to other countries in effort elicit their full support.

I said it would be helpful in order enable US plan most effective way of bringing this result about if we could know as much as possible about Dalai’s own thinking, what he planned do, and reactions he had received from other interested parties. I therefore asked if he would mind if I put series of questions to him. He said he would be happy to try to answer them.

I asked whether Dalai planned base his case in UN on old case raised in 1950 by El Salvador, or whether he planned present it as new case. I said that we felt that form in which case was presented was important from point of view of eliciting support and recalled that 1950 case was based on aggression. We felt that way in which case would be likely to command greatest support would be if it were represented, primarily at least, as one of human rights.

Dalai replied that after very hopeful thought he had decided present case as revival and continuance of old case and therefore aggression would be one of the grounds charged. However, this would not be only ground. He would also charge violation of human rights, stamping out of basic freedoms, such as freedom of religion, and genocide.

I repeated that, as he knew, our hope was that it would be possible get widest measure of support for his case and that if case were based upon violation of human rights, it would be likely command wider support than if it got into questions of aggression, sovereignty and so forth which were not as clear because of long history of different treaties, recognition of Chinese suzerainty by several countries, et cetera.

When I asked Dalai if he had received any indications particularly from Asian countries of willingness to (A) sponsor or (B) support Tibet’s case in the UN, he made rather helpless gesture with his hands and said that he had not had much response, although missions with which he had only been in touch since arriving Delhi had not been in position to make any commitments. I gathered he not too optimistic he will get much support. He plans extend his stay in Delhi till about 11th or 12th September in order to continue efforts.

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When I asked if he would be willing tell me impressions he had gained from his talks with Prime Minister about India’s attitude toward his raising question in UN and possible attitude of Indian delegation in event someone else raised it, Dalai replied Nehru had told him India could not sponsor his case in UN, but that he, Dalai, was entirely free, so far as Nehru was concerned to take any action with respect to UN that he saw fit. He said that he had not received any very clear impression from Prime Minister re position Indian UN delegation would take.

Dalai said Nehru had remarked Soviets had been very quiet about Tibet case thus far and nothing should be done to keep them from continuing to do so.

Whether Dalai still intended appear personally at UN if his case was heard, he said that this was point on which he had not as yet made up his mind. Would appreciate any advice that US cared to give him. I said I had no specific instructions from my government on this point and would seek them, but I had general impression that USG would probably consider that personal appearance by him would be useful.

Dalai said it would be most important for him to have clear understanding with GOI before he went to New York that his appearance before UN would not create problems between him and GOI and most important that there would be no difficulty about his coming back to India.

I asked him if he planned to visit any other countries before his case was heard in the UN. He again looked rather hopeless and said, “the time is rather short”.

Further questions elicited information that (1) Dalai intends make another public statement before returning to Mussoorie, in which he will set forth fully reasons why he appealing to UN and would stress sufferings of his people. He thought case would be convincing. (2) Dalai planning to open office in New Delhi. His representative would be Tsepon Shakapa and procedure was satisfactory to GOI.

Dalai then said that there was very important point that he wished me stress with my government: Matter of independence of Tibet would have to be settled before Communist China was admitted to UN. I asked him if he intended, in his presentation, to stress independence of Tibet, or to ask UN or its members to support Tibetan independence. He replied that 1950 case had been case of invasion of an independent country and that by basing his appeal to UN on continuance of previous case he was thereby reasserting independence of invaded Tibet.

I assured Dalai that US would vigorously oppose admission of Communist China to UN this year as it had done successfully in the past and said that I felt that sufferings inflicted on his people by Communist Chinese would certainly render task of opposition easier. I had, again, no specific instructions on point, but felt personally that there would be [Page 780] merit in not having two issues of Tibet and admission of Red China to UN tied up too closely together; rather would it be preferable to have Tibetan case discussed separately and heard on its own merits without being tied up with what would be considered a cold war issue.

As I left, I repeated I would pass his messages on to my government expeditiously and that I hoped I might have some answer for him before he left Delhi.

MEA was earlier informed of Dalai’s invitation and my acceptance. I will inform Foreign Secretary Dutt tomorrow at ten without details that purpose of Dalai’s invitation was to request our fullest support his appeal to UN.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 793B.00/9–459. Secret; Priority. Transmitted in the sections. Received at 9:53 a.m. on September 5. Repeated to London.
  2. The American Emergency Committee for Tibetan Refugees.
  3. Reference is to a proposal by El Salvador in November 1950 to add the “invasion of Tibet by foreign forces” to the agenda of the General Assembly; the General Committee voted to postpone consideration of the item. For related documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. VI, pp. 577584 passim.