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Lions Roar : July 2017
received a report that the Chinese military was planning to shell the Norbulingka, and they wanted to know his precise location to avoid hitting him. On March 17 he consulted the State Oracle, who told him that he must flee. He performed his own divination and reached the same conclusion. Since his personal safety was the focus of the protests, it seemed that only his departure could quell the crowds and prevent a military crackdown. Wearing civilian clothes, half-blind with his glasses in his pocket, a rifle over one shoulder and an ancient Buddhist painting over the other, the Dalai Lama left the palace at a little before ten at night. He and his companions made their way unnoticed through the gathered crowd and crossed the river in coracles, fearing that the splash of oars would draw machine-gun fire. The moon was covered by clouds and they were not seen. Over the next three weeks, across challenging terrain and slowed by a terrible bout of dysentery, the Dalai Lama and his entourage rode to India. A few days after their flight they received word that the Norbulingka and Lhasa had been bombed. The Tibetan people were now in full revolt against the Chinese occupiers. Between March and September, the People’s Liberation Army recorded 87,000 Tibetan deaths by “military action.” The Dalai Lama’s party reached the safety of the Indian border on March 31. During the journey the Dalai Lama had formed a temporary government-in-exile, and in April he held a press conference repudiating the Seventeen Point Agreement. A year later, in 1960, he took up residence in the hill station of Dharamsala, on the western edge of the Himalayas. He makes his home there to this day. Top: Wearing ordinary layman’s clothes, the Dalai Lama reluctantly flees Lhasa to continue his leadership of the Tibetan people in exile. Middle: The arduous journey over some of the world’s most difficult terrain, avoiding capture by Chinese troops, takes three weeks. The Dalai Lama is the second rider from right. Left: The Dalai Lama’s party arrives safely at the Indian border, where they are greeted by Indian officials. The Indian government would extend generous help to Tibetan refugees. Below: At his first press conference in exile, the Dalai Lama renounces the Seventeen Point Agreement, which the Tibetan delegation had been forced to sign in Beijing. PHOTOS(CLOCKWISEFROMTOP)THEOFFICEOFH.H.DALAILAMA(TOPTWOPHOTOS),THELIVINGHISTORYPROJECT,THETIBETMUSEUM LION’S ROAR | JULY 2017 65