Phuntsok Wangyal

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Phuntsok Wangyal Goranangpa
Wangyal sm.jpg
Born January 2, 1922
Batang, Kham, Tibet
Died March 30, 2014(2014-03-30) (aged 92)
Beijing, China
Nationality Tibetan

Phuntsok Wangyal Goranangpa (January 2, 1922 – March 30, 2014), also known as Phuntsog Wangyal,[1] Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal or Phünwang, was a Tibetan politician. He is best known for having founded the Tibetan Communist Party and was a major figure in modern Sino-Tibetan relations. He was arrested by the Chinese authorities in 1960 and subsequently spent 18 years in the infamous Chinese high security prison Qincheng in solitary confinement. He lived in Beijing until his death.

Biography[edit]

Phünwang was born in Batang, in the province of Kham in Tibet. Phünwang began his political activism at school at the special academy run by Chiang Kaishek’s Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission in Nanjing, where he secretly founded the Tibetan Communist Party. Until 1949, he organized a guerilla movement against the Chinese Guomindang which expanded military influence in Kham.

The strategy of the Tibetan Communist Party under his leadership during the 1940s was twofold: influence and gain support for his cause amongst progressive Tibetan students, intellectuals and members of the powerful aristocracy in Central Tibet in order to establish a program of modernization and democratic (i.e. socialist) reform, while at the same time sustain a guerilla war against the rule of Liu Wenhui, an important warlord who affiliated with the Guomindang. For sometime, Wangyal lectured at Tromzikhang on Barkhor square in the 1940s when it was used as a Republican school.[2]

Phünwang's political goal was to see an independent and united Tibet, and to achieve a fundamental transformation of Tibet's feudal social structures. He was expulsed by the Tibetan government in 1949, and after joining the Chinese Communist Party's fight against the Guomindang he fused his Tibetan party with the Chinese Communist Party, at the behest of the Chinese military leaders, which meant that he had to abandon his goals of an independent socialist Tibet.[3] He played an important administrative role in the organization of the party in Lhasa and was the official translator of the young 14th Dalai Lama during his famous meetings with Mao Zedong in Beijing in the years 1954-55.

In the 1950s, Phünwang was the highest-ranking Tibetan in the Chinese Communist Party, and although he spoke fluent Chinese, was habituated to Chinese culture and customs and was completely devoted to the cause of socialism and to the Communist Party, his intensive engagement for the well-being of the Tibetans made him suspicious to his powerful party comrades. Eventually, in 1958, he was placed under house arrest and two years later disappeared from the public eye. He was imprisoned in solitary confinement in the Chinese equivalent of the Bastille in Beijing for the next 18 years. During his imprisonment, his wife, a Tibetan Muslim from Lhasa who stayed behind in Beijing with their children, died gruesomely while incarcerated herself, and all children were sent to different prisons. It was only in 1975 that his family was told that he was still alive and had been incarcerated in a maximum-security prison for political prisoners. Unbeknownst to Phünwang, his younger brother was also incarcerated in Qincheng for 16 years.

Phuntsok Wangyal Goranangpa was officially rehabilitated a few years after his release in 1978 but remained in Beijing without any outside contact.[4][5] Later, he was offered the position of Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region government, which he declined.

An as-told-to biography has been published in English, where he particularly emphasizes the need to better understand the interests of the Tibetan people in the context of peace and unity in the People's Republic of China.[6]

Recently, he declared in an open letter to Hu Jintao that he should accommodate for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, suggesting that this gesture would be "...good for stabilizing Tibet." In a third letter dated 1 August 2006, he wrote : "If the inherited problem with Tibet continues to be delayed, it is most likely going to result in the creation of 'The Eastern Vatican of Tibetan Buddhism' alongside the Exile Tibetan Government. Then the 'Tibet Problem', be it nationally or internationally, will become more complicated and more troublesome."[7]

In a letter Hu Jintao in 2007, Phuntsok Wangyal criticised cadres of the CCP whom, to support Dorje Shugden, "make a living, are promoted and become rich by opposing splittism".[8]

He died on March 30, 2014 at a Beijing hospital.[9]

Published works[edit]

  • Liquid Water Does Exist on the Moon. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 2002, ISBN 7-119-01349-1.
  • Witness to Tibet's History, Baba Phuntsok Wangyal. New Delhi: Paljor Publication, 2007, ISBN 81-86230-58-0.
  • 平措汪杰(平汪):《平等團結路漫漫——對我國民族關係的反思》. Hong Kong: 田園書屋, 2014, ISBN 978-988-15571-9-3.

See also[edit]

  • Melvyn Goldstein, Dawei Sherap, William Siebenschuh. A Tibetan Revolutionary. The political life of Bapa Phüntso Wangye. U. of California Press, pp. 371, 2004

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ This is the form given in the Dalai Lama's autobiography Freedom in Exile
  2. ^ Hartley, Lauren R., Schiaffini-Vedani, Patricia (2008). Modern Tibetan literature and social change. Duke University Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-8223-4277-4. 
  3. ^ The prisoner by Tsering Shakya
  4. ^ Lectures critiques par Fabienne Jagou
  5. ^ Le dernier caravanier par Claude Arpi
  6. ^ Biography of a Tibetan Revolutionary Highlights Complexity of Modern Tibetan Politics
  7. ^ Baba Phuntsok: Witness to Tibet's History
  8. ^ Allegiance to the Dalai Lama and those who "become rich by opposing splittism"
  9. ^ http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-tibetan-communist-who-urged-reconciliation-with-dalai-lama-dies-1973510