Lhakar Film Series|Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet

On July 29th CIA In Tibetwe screened the film Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet. During the 1950s the Tibetan resistance movement which is nowadays known for its non-violence gained an unlikely ally in the struggle against Communist China: The United States Intelligence Agency. Between 1957 and 1969 thousands of Tibetans took up arms and fought China in a guerrilla war of resistance. After the Dalai Lama’s escape to India they set up a base in Mustang, where they were trained and financed by the CIA. In 1969 the CIA abandoned the Tibetan resistance fighters, as the United States foreign policy towards China had changed. The documentary showed us unique footage and interviews with both former Tibetan resistance fighters and members of the CIA during this time.

The discussion after the film was about many different issues. Many people shared their further knowledge about the CIA’s involvement in the Tibetan resistance. One attendee told the audience how the US gave old weapons to the fighters so that they could keep in secret that they were supporting the Tibetans. This, as well as when they abandoned the Tibetan resistance fighters suddenly in 1969 shows that for the US, Tibet’s fight against China was not a political priority.

We decided to screen this film in order to show this rather unknown chapter of the Tibetan resistance. We wanted to show the public that there was a strong and violent resistance in the beginning after the Chinese invasion that is now never mentioned due to Tibet’s reputation of being a nonviolent and Buddhist nation.