Anna Louise Strong Reference Archive
A few miles westward from Lhasa we turned on a dirt road into a rather unkempt rural area and presently drew up at a large, rambling and untidy manor-house that had recently belonged to Lhalu Tsewong-Dorje, commander-in-chief of the March rebellion in Lhasa. We were bound for an accusation meeting of the san fan campaign, in which Lhalu's former serfs would accuse.
Lhalu's family was not of the "old nobility" in Tibet; it did not, like Apei's, 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. In the century or two since then it had grown powerful and wealthy, and had possessed twenty-two manorial estates, of which this in the western district of Lhasa was one. Lhalu himself had helcf some of the highest posts in Tibet's local government. 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 and in 1947 had been appointed governor of Chamdo, that disputed province between Tibet and Szechuan which Tibetan warlords had taken from Szechuan warlords some years earlier. Replaced in this governorship in 1950 by Apei, who soon thereafter lost Chamdo to the People's Liberation Army, Lhalu had then been appointed under Apei as one of the plenipotentiaries for the Dalai Lama to negotiate with Peking the 1951 Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet as an integral part of the newly formed People's Republic of China.
Some of the signers of the Agreement took it sincerely; Lhalu did not. He continued to hold high post in Tibet's local government — the Agreement had provided that this' government would not be changed — and was governor of grain supply in 1957. His plotting for Tibet's secession from China continued; it had a history of years. 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. The accusation meeting which we were to visit 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.
Leaving our cars in the walled-in stable-yard, we passed through an entrance hall guarded by several soldiers and came to a large open court enclosed on all sides by the columns and porches of a two storey mansion. A large, close-packed crowd of men, women and children — we were told there were eight hundred — was seated on the stone flags of the courtyard. At the moment they were shouting and raising their right arms in the air. At the far end of the court several people sat on chairs behind a table, clearly in charge of the meeting as a sort of "tribunal" whose powers we were yet to know. A score or more people, including a half dozen soldiers, looked down on the audience from a wide porch that ran along part of the second storey. Above them, at roof level, a large canvas had been stretched to protect the meeting from weather, but this only covered the "tribunal" and the front half of the audience, leaving the rest under an open, overcast sky.
"Lhalu, confess! Repent!" the crowd was shouting, Lhalu himself stood facing them, between them and the "tribunal". An angry peasant woman near him was denouncing him for his crimes. Lhalu, a man of forty-three, with black hair indicating his prime, seemed in good health but standing in a rather odd way. He was bowing from the waist so low that his trunk was at right angles to his legs, and he had dropped his hands to his knees to support this rather difficult position. His arms trembled slightly and he sweated, either from exertion or the strain of the accusation. The posture, we were told, was that customary in Tibet for any accused person facing a formal accusation. Lhalu was the accused; his former serfs were accusers.
The accuser as we entered was a woman of perhaps forty years, in a brown dress of coarse homespun wool, made jumper-style and displaying the contrasting red sleeves of an under-blouse. "Lhalu!" she said, "you did to death my husband and children! You flogged my husband and threw him into your cellar jail and he died there! You took my son for a slave and he died of hunger and heavy labor. My two small children died of their hard life. I had five children; only two are left!"
We found seats prepared for us in the front area behind the "tribunal" and our interpreters began to explain the proceedings in whispers. The first woman was quickly followed by a second, who wore a woolen gown of shabby black over sleeves of bright green, with a frazzled scarlet ribbon in her hair. Her name was Lingchen. She also declared that Lhalu had killed her husband, but the details were different. Ten men, of whom her husband was one, were given orders by the kashag to fetch willow wood for firewood and they had to go so far and the delivery took so long that her husband was late in his attendance on Lhalu. For this Lhalu had him beaten into unconsciousness and left on the ground some distance away where he was found by peasants late at night and brought to his home.
In gaps between speeches, I looked at the crowd. They seemed far more poverty-stricken than would easily be found in any Western nation. Many looked old and gaunt, with dark, worn faces, but v/hen they were excited to speech they seemed not as old in years as in the first impression. They were people who loved color and ornament. This appeared in a pink cotton shirt, in bright blue, green or red sleeves of under-blouses, in scarlet hair-ribbons, in brassy earrings. Even some of the men displayed a single large "golden" circle as an ear-ring. Many of the women held babies or small children.
At high points in an accusation, a man or woman would jump up in the audience and lead off in a shouted slogan. "Lhalu! Bend down and confess! If you sincerely repent, the people may be lenient!" . . . "Lhalu! Consider your past! Now we have stood up!"
A crippled man of fifty-seven years named Habu hobbled forward; his back was twisted above the waist. He spoke violently, a violence contrasting with his physical weakness. His charges went back many years to a time when Lhalu built a new mansion on another manorial estate and ordered extra labor duty from his serfs, Lhalu ordered every household to bring him nine hundred big rocks and nine hundred earthen blocks for the building, and he paid them one ping of silver for every hundred blocks. "But we could not carry these blocks to your manor so we had to hire carters and this cost us for transport ten times what you paid."
"I was your tsaiba, and I owed you labor duty, but my father had died and my household lacked one worker, so I did not owe you as much ula duty as you enforced."
Another man supplemented the testimony of the crippled man and the meeting brought out the statistics of the hamlet in which the exploitation had taken place. There had been seventy-eight households, and twenty-five were tsaiba, and forty-eight were dui-chun, who, since they paid for land with grain, owed a much smaller labor service. Five families were "freed from labor duty", one of them because a past ancestor had done a signal service to the "King of the Law", and been "freed from labor duty with all his descendants forever", and the other four because their daughters had been taken to give service in song and dance at the feasts of the kashag, and the families had therefore no other labor duty.
"But all these seventy-eight families were forced by you to do this work," the crippled man declared, shaking his fist at Lhalu.
It was clear that, even under serfdom, there were supposed to be limits to exploitation, enforced by custom. It was equally clear that when a master chose to demand more from the serf than was his due by custom, there was nothing the serf could do but obey. But the memory of the community kept account of what Lhalu had done as "injustice", and brought it up against him after long years. The memory had no doubt been kept fresh since the compulsion to hire carters had put households in debt from which many had not recovered in subsequent years.
Another source of the ancient debts became clear when a white-haired man came forward. From his manner he seemed very old and feeble but he said that he was sixty-two. He began softly, even a bit timidly: "Do you remember me, Lhalu? I was your tsaiba and I had two kes of land (about two-thirds of an acre). One ke was free from labor duty but there was labor duty on the other. You ordered me to take care of a hall for religious services, and then you sent me to other work and when I returned to the hall two silver butter-lamps had disappeared. For this you accused me and demanded that I pay sixty ping of silver for the butter-lamps though such lamps cost only ten ping apiece. But your steward said these were very fine lamps and I must pay sixty ping.
"So I had to sell my two horses and they were worth more than the butter-lamps but the steward gave me only nineteen ping for them, and I sold my wife's clothes and ornaments and he gave me only four ping for them though they were worth nineteen. So when this was not enough I went to borrow from an under-steward and he lent me thirty ping at sixteen percent. Thus I became a beggar without horses and my wife without ornaments and with debt that could never be paid. Then you took me to the religious hall and made me pray before the new butter-lamps, and when I had prayed I lifted my eyes and they were the same butter-lamps that you said I had stolen. And I knew that you had ruined me, not for stealing, but for my two horses and the ornaments of my wife. . . .
"Do you remember me, Lhalu? My life has been ruined to this day. But now again I live, for I see you a prisoner here."
Lhalu seemed to shrink from the old man as he had not shrunk from more violent accusations. He muttered something. I asked: "Does he confess?" "He confesses partly," said the interpreter. "He says he has made mistakes and sometimes punished unduly. He does not confess enough. The people are not satisfied."
* * *
So many accounts of floggings were given by younger men who had worked for Lhalu as stable grooms that it became difficult to disentangle their stories later and know how many grooms had spoken and which floggings had been given to which man. 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. One man, for instance, declared that he had been attacked by drunken Tibetan soldiers on one occasion while waiting at night in Lhasa for his master, and later Lhalu had him flogged for "fighting with soldiers".
The most Vocal of these grooms was a man apparently in his late twenties, nattily dressed with leather accessories, a big golden circlet in one ear and a wrist watch which he took some pains to display. His name was Dusu and he had been many times flogged and also thrown into jail for as long as forty-nine days.
Once it was the affair of the Indian saddle. Lhalu went often to Lhasa to parties held by the kashag. On " one such occasion he ordered the groom to prepare the fine Indian saddle. But after the horse was ready, Lhalu changed his mind and decided that since the occasion was a religious one, he should have the Tibetan saddle instead. He ordered the saddle changed.
"It took much time to change this saddle for it had much fringed cloth and a new cover had to be cut to fit. I was not ready in time, so they flogged me and jailed me with chains on my legs for a month."
On another occasion, when Dusu had to wait in Lhasa late at night for his master, he "warmed himself with a little wine at an inn". Lhalu quickly observed this and had him beaten with fifty lashes and thrown into jail in handcuffs for forty-nine days. When he came from jail, Lhalu made him bring fifty big rocks for building, and construct a wall in five days by himself without any aid. Being exhausted from jail he strained himself with the heavy rocks, because he feared another lashing if he did not finish the work on time. He suffered from this strain for a long time.
Dusu was then given strict orders never to go to Lhasa without permission. "But when the festival of lamps came, I went to Lhasa because this is the great prayer festival to which all go. . . . For this, Lhalu put shackles on my feet and made me do service in shackles, climbing the steep stairs to serve .him on the upper floor. Then he threw me in jail again till he needed me to race his horses."
Dusu stated that he himself, in his time of service, had witnessed fifty-seven floggings and also knew of twenty-three people who had been "traded away from their homes or exiled on the roads". He said that household and stable serfs who attended Lhalu personally, were expected to have good clothes, and that most masters furnished such clothes but Lhalu didn't, so the serfs went in debt to buy good clothes.
Dusu also gave data on the food of the nantsam, the house and field serfs who worked full time for the master and had no other source of food. They were supposed to get twenty kes (550 pounds) of barley a year, but they did not get this full amount. The ration was given in the form of barley meal, the tsamba which is the staple food of Tibet and this was adulterated and expanded in the grinding so that the final sacks were not the full ration. Moreover, the serfs had to bring it on their backs three sacks in summer, three sacks in winter from Lhalu's manor in Shigatse, which was several days' journey away, and in summer they sweated so that the barley got wet and sticky and spoiled soon. "Only the winter barley was good," declared Dusu. Of butter they were supposed to get three kes  (twenty-three pounds), but they never did. In good years they got perhaps ten pounds, but in the past year they got almost no butter because Lhalu gave it to the rebel troops.
There was at no time any cross-questioning and little attempt to check the accuracy of the charges. It was often hard to tell whether Lhalu or his steward had personally done the action of which the complaint was made. Some accusers seemed to blame him in person for all the evils of serfdom, while others made distinction between acts that were "proper" under the customs of serfdom, and other acts that violated what had been considered the serfs' rights. Not all the testimony was of equal value if this had been a court determining Lhalu's personal guilt. Dusu, among others, was clearly a man who liked to dramatize himself, and who might have been found by any master a rather "intractable slave". What he called "warming himself with a glass of wine" could easily have been held by Lhalu to be "getting drunk on duty".
These details, which might have been important in a court, were not important for the purpose of this meeting. What was important was that serfs give voice to grievances that had piled up in their voiceless souls for years. These grievances were endless. It was impossible to translate all details during the meeting. Two interpreters therefore gave their full time to making notes, which they gave us later at the guesthouse, and from which we corrected and expanded our data.
We thus learned of Chutsa, a tsaiba, whose house had been robbed and who asked permission to leave the manor to hunt the robbers. Lhalu replied, angrily: "Are your affairs more important than mine?" and Chutsa was beaten for even asking to leave his work. Chutsa's daughter had been taken into the manor-house as housemaid. Once when she washed Lhalu's handkerchiefs and hung them out to dry, a handkerchief had been blown away by the wind. For this the girl was flogged. Incidents like this seemed numberless and testified to the bleakness of the ancient Tibetan "way of life".
While the former serfs were encouraged to tell their sufferings, and were supported by shouting of slogans, it was clear that there were limits and that these were understood. Not only had the youth who tried to strike Lhalu been pulled back by the other peasants, but none of the shouted slogans demanded Lhalu's death. Even those peasants who claimed that Lhalu had "murdered" their nearest and dearest, were not asking death in return. The usual demand was: "Confess! Repent!" Once there was a shout: "Destroy this rebel head," but this was at once followed by other slogans which seemed to indicate that it was Lhalu's power that must be destroyed rather than his physical body. They cried: "Destroy the documents of the old power! Destroy the instruments of torture! Destroy the cheating measures and the deeds of debt!" It was clear that the policy and limits in the slogans had been carefully worked out and explained in advance.
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". "He confesses partly," said the interpreter, "but he does not confess enough. The people are not satisfied."
The meeting grew restless, expectant. Suddenly a loud shout rose like a war cry from the audience: "Burn the debts! Burn the debts!" A tall rather imposing man came in from the door that connected the manor-house with the courtyard. He was in his shirt-sleeves, dragging a huge basket full of papers, with which he was at once helped by many willing hands. Lhalu's steward, was bringing in the "titles of debts". He dragged the basket to the rear part of the courtyard which was open to the sky. Several more boxes of papers followed. The accusations stopped and the people all turned in their seats and began to face not Lhalu and the "tribunal" but the steward and the boxes and baskets of debts. Implements of torture and great whips were also brought in and heaped near the basket.
The steward began to read the titles of papers and drop the papers on the stone flags of the court, where they rapidly grew into a large pile. "Contract for ula labor" ... "Poll-Tax" . . . "Grain Debt for Seed". Some of these debts went back for generations. A seed loan been made to a grandfather or even to a remote ancestor, and had grown with heavy interest to an amount which could never be paid. Possibly there were debts included here which had begun not even with a seed loan, but with a false charge of theft, like that which had brought the old man of sixty-two to beggary or debts incurred for clothes which the master expected, or in ula labor which the master demanded or in any of ways in which a master who was responsible to no one might impose debt on serfs who had no way of redress.
All "feudal debts" had been outlawed by the resolution passed July 17 by the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region. "Commercial debts" incurred in 1959 were upheld but only with interest not exceeding one percent per month, or twelve percent a year. The people of this manor would now enforce the law. There seemed no doubt in anyone's mind what was meant by "feudal debts".
The pile of papers had grown as high as a man's waist. A light wind began to lift and scatter the lighter papers. The nearer peasants lifted the great whips and dropped them on the pile, to hold the papers in order and to be themselves consumed. Matches were put to the pile but the heavy papers burned slowly, raising thick clouds of smoke., Men lifted the papers and stirred them with old instruments of torture to give the flames air. Presently, amid shouts from the crowd, the pile burst into a sheet of flame. There was no lack of willing hands to turn the fuel and to raise the blaze.
Lhalu looked on for a moment. He had straightened his back and raised his head as soon as the accusation was over when the people had turned from him to the papers. He 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.
* * *
As the former serfs watched the fire die down and the ashes scatter, our group of foreign correspondents divided into smaller groups to visit the manor-house. The downstairs was bare; it had been used for serfs' quarters and for storage. One room with a stone floor and stone walls and a very small barred window had been the private jail.
Lhalu's apartments had been on the upper floor, as is custom in houses of Tibetan nobles. He had never lived here regularly; he had lived in Lhasa or Chamdo, according to his government post, and kept this manor as temporary retreat. His rooms were neither large nor well-lit, though they were carpeted and furnished with chairs, beds and tables in dark rich wood as well as some rather expensive but tasteless draperies. The largest room, which seemed his sitting-room, had a big store of imported wines and cognacs. There was a pistol on the table and a tiny but powerful camera of a type suitable for espionage. A small, adjoining room for a concubine had been supplied with foreign perfumes and cosmetics in quantity. Not far away was the private chapel, crammed with Buddha images.
There were disorderly evidences of power and sex and religion and foreign contacts, but there was little that indicated comfort. No middle class Westerner would have wanted this mansion without much remodelling. I recalled what one of the "modernized nobles" had said: "You can get more comfort and even luxury from a single power-plant than from a thousand barefoot serfs." Even for serf-owners, the Tibetan way of life had been grim.
* * *
When we gathered that evening in the guest-house to check our notes with the two interpreters who had taken notes continuously in the meeting, we were also given a typed account by a local correspondent of the big July 26th Lhasa mass-meeting in which Lhalu was first accused. The incidents were somewhat sharper and the charges stronger than in the meeting we had visited; this was natural because the Lhasa meeting drew from manors in many places and brought witnesses from as far as Chamdo. The Lhasa meeting also contained the charges of the two political murders; and it had a rather large proportion of accusations from people who had been fairly well-off as tsaibas, until they were ruined and driven to beggary on "the roads. This also was natural, for Lhasa had been the great center for beggars, who came both seeking alms at festivals and also seeking jobs. Much testimony in Lhasa indicated how this beggary began.
Said Pema Wangchia, thrusting his begging bowl forward and trying to put it on Lhalu's bent neck: "Look at my rags. I was your tsaiba and you broke my family and made me a beggar,"
Said Purbu Tseda of Yangda Manor: "There were thirty tsaiba households in that manor and you so persecuted them that seventeen households ran away. Then, when you made rebellion, you forced the rest of us to stand guard on the Chiswan bridge to die for your gang of lords."
Said Pintso of another manor: "Nine of my family you persecuted to death in two years. We had two hundred and twenty sheep and more than ten cattle, and all of these were seized by you in a day. When my old father protested, you had him given eight hundred lashes from which he died. All of my family was destroyed and all of our property taken by your acts and I was driven out as a beggar on the roads."
Said Nyima, a girl from Chamdo: "When Lhalu was governor in Chamdo, he had my brother flogged without cause and cast into jail. So my family beggared itself to ransom him, and we gave six yaks loaded with butter and a hundred ping of silver. Then you let my brother come home but he came all bloody with the beatings and he died. My family had nothing left; we became wandering beggars."
Said Rinchen, a woman of fifty-nine: "You eater of human flesh and drinker of blood! You persecuted to death eight of my family in Chamdo. You seized them with all our possessions in the broad light of day. I became a beggar on the road all the way to Lhasa and even in Lhasa I dared not show my face after you came here. I prayed to die but now I am glad to be living. For under the bright sun of the people we shall punish this man-eating wolf by law!"
The number of these accusations seemed to indicate a fairly common process through which tsaiba households which began to enrich themselves were beggared. Lhasa had been full of such people, and even in Lhasa they were expected to send a poll-tax to their distant lord. This was the obvious meaning of the woman Rinchen's complaint that she dared not show her face in Lhasa.
The most important charges were of course those concerned with the political assassinations of Living Buddha Geda and Regent Rabchen, both eminent patriotic Tibetan leaders, who were murdered by the pro-British elements in the period before the liberation. The Rabchen Hutuktu,  Regent for the present Dalai Lama in the first eight years, was arrested and strangled in prison in 1947. The Living Buddha Geda died suddenly in Chamdo in 1950 with symptoms that indicated poison, but that could not be checked because the body was so quickly burned by the authorities. Chinese have held that Lhalu, then governor of Chamdo, and "the British agent Robert Ford" were guilty of this. Ford, captured when the PLA took Chamdo, held for some years and finally released, wrote a book in England claiming his own innocence but stating that he thought he knew who did it but would not tell. . . . This of itself points to Lhalu for whom Ford displays great admiration. Ford's account of his own reasons for running a radio transmission in Chamdo during a civil war may convince British readers of his good sportsmanship but will not appeal to Asians with experience of British agents.
Tsaba Banden, brother of the Living Buddha Geda, came all the way from Chamdo to Lhasa to testify against Lhalu, crying out: "I saw Geda killed." The reporter noted that "Lhalu's face grew dark as earth" when he saw Geda's brother. But while the witness called Lhalu "that poisonous devil" and that "lackey of the imperialists", I found no factual data in his report beyond his presence at the death-bed where he "saw Geda die of poison". This was convincing enough to his Lhasa audience who are well aware of the wide experience their top lamas have with poisons, but will hardly be "evidence" in the West.
Evidence on the murder of the regent was much stronger. Here we had not only a lama from Sera Monastery who, "on behalf of all the lamas of Sera" accused Lhalu of "killing the Living Buddha Rabchen who loved the people". We have also flat testimony from one of Rabchen's body-servants who says he saw the deed in the jail, where the regent was attended by several body-servants. This man Duntsuchienchun bared his own arms and legs to show great scars and pulled open his tunic to show old wounds on his body as he declared :
"Look at the scars! They were made by this wolf here after he strangled Living Buddha Rabchen the Regent with his own hands." Then, turning on Lhalu he said: "In 1947 on March 17th by the Tibetan calendar I saw you strangle him in the jail with your own hands. Then we, his servants, were seized and flogged into this shape. Now that we have a people's government I demand punishment on you for your victims." More details of the killing were said to have been given in the meeting but were not published in the press. They are no doubt in the data filed against Lhalu in the Lhasa court. Nobody I met in Lhasa doubted that Lhalu had done this deed.
* * *
"What will they do with Lhalu?" I asked one of the chairmen in the accusation meeting we attended. He looked at me in some surprise.
"That will depend on Lhalu," he replied. "If he repents and convinces the government that he has turned from the past, he will be set free and given a job suited to his abilities. Certainly this cannot happen at once. He has killed many people, some directly and others indirectly. But this does not necessarily I ring a death sentence. He will at least be confined for a time and re-educated by labor. Many of the rebels are now working on the construction of the new power-plant for Lhasa. They work like other people luit there are guards not far away.
"From the accusations already made it seems the court may find that his crimes demand a death sentence. Even this does not mean that he is executed. A death sentence with us often has a two years' provision attached. If in two years he shows that he can become a new man, then even a death sentence is removed. No death sentence can be carried out until it is passed by three courts, the lower court, the court of the province, in this case, of Tibet, and finally by the Supreme Court of Peking. Hence nothing either good or bad will happen suddenly to Lhalu.  His future will develop one way or the other according to his own acts."
"Are you going to take him around to all his twenty-two manors for accusation meetings?" I asked.
"Probably not," smiled the chairman. "This depends on the demands of the peasants and on how the authorities handling Lhalu decide. Probably all of his manors want to accuse him. But most of his peasants near Lhasa came to the big mass-meeting. Guards have to be spared and trips to distant manors are not easy to arrange. They may decide that these two meetings are enough. The period of the san fan and shuang jian draws to its close."
He explained that the "democratic reform’’ was being carried out in two stages. The present stage was that of the san fan and shuang jian, the "three abolitions and two reductions" in which the rebellion, the forced ula labor and the personal servitude, were to be abolished, while land rent and interest were to be reduced. This policy, decreed July 17th by Tibet's local government, must be carried out by actions among the people.
"The people should learn through these meetings that they no longer owe obedience to nobles, but that the people themselves are the source of law which everyone must obey. This leads to the organization of Peasants' Associations and these become township and county government. Already the old local governments by nobles and monasteries are abolished by the military control; now the military control must give way to government by the Tibetan people. When this is done, we proceed to the second stage, the distribution of land to the peasants. The Preparatory Committee is already negotiating the purchase of land from the nobles; the new local governments will handle its distribution. These accusation meetings are only a temporary stage."
1.A ke of grain is 27.5 pounds in the small measure used in giving to serfs, up to 35 pounds in the big measure with which the lord collects. A ke of butter is 7.7 pounds. Barley expands in grinding, so that twenty kes produce over 30 kes of meal.
2.Hutuktu, a specially high Living Buddha.
3.1n fact, Lhalu was imprisoned until August 31, 1965 when he was freed, with two other ex-leaders of the 1959 rebellion, just before the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The court announcement of their release said they had "admitted their crimes, obeyed the laws and showed signs of genuine change and a desire to turn over a new leaf".