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Confidential letter of the Great 13th Dalai Lama revealed

July 12, 2010

Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)
July 7, 2010

Dharamshala -- Dr Jampa Samten from the Tibetan
history section of the Central University of
Tibetan Studies, Sarnath (CUTS), delivered an
interactive lecture on a confidential letter sent
by the Great 13th Dalai Lama to the Russian Czar here, Monday.

The confidential letter, written in 1912 by the
13th Dalai Lama upon his return from temporary
exile in India, was procured by Dr Samten during
one of his extensive field studies.

Dr. Samten began by giving a detailed background
on the prevalent geo-political dynamics of the
late 19th and early 20th centuries when Tibet was
forced into the ‘Great Game’ of strategic rivalry
and conflict between the British and the Russian empires for supremacy in Asia.

He noted that although the Manchus collapsed in
1912, which would result in Tibet’s declaration
of independence the following year, the 13th
Dalai Lama exercised great wisdom in his
endeavours to seek political endorsement of
Tibet’s sovereign status by trying to forge
diplomatic and military relations with the neighbouring empires.

The confidential letter was amongst the many
important steps that the 13th Dalai Lama took in
shaping policies regarding Tibet’s foreign diplomacy and political governance.

Dr. Samten pointed out that the most important
attribute of the letter sent through the Russian
born monk Agvan Dorjiev was a request by the 13th
Dalai Lama for a legally binding treaty between
Russia and Tibet. The letter also divulged in
detail on building formal military ties between
the two countries with exchange of military
intelligence and purchase of arms and
ammunitions. The letter also made specific
references to the long-standing friendly
relationship that the two countries shared.

Dr Samten argued that the letter raising numerous
bi-lateral issues showed the distinctive
characters of a sovereign and a forward-looking
nation led by an independently functioning government.

The talk was organised by the Library of Tibetan
Works and Archives (LTWA) at its new annexe building.

The Central Tibetan Administration had in
February commemorated the centenary of the 13th
Dalai Lama's exile from Manchu’s invading forces
to British protectorate in India in 1910 and
announced commemorative programmes in Darjeeling,
Kalimpong and Calcutta, places where the 13th
Dalai Lama spent his days during exile.

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