This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
March 10 is the 69th day of the year (70th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 296 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1959, Tibetans band together in revolt, surrounding the summer palace of the Dalai Lama in defiance of Chinese occupation forces.
China’s occupation of Tibet began nearly a decade before, in October 1950, when troops from its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded the country, barely one year after the Communists gained full control of mainland China. The Tibetan government gave into Chinese pressure the following year, signing a treaty that ensured the power of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the country’s spiritual leader, over Tibet’s domestic affairs. Resistance to the Chinese occupation built steadily over the next several years, including a revolt in several areas of eastern Tibet in 1956. By December 1958, rebellion was simmering in Lhasa, the capital, and the PLA command threatened to bomb the city if order was not maintained.
On 1 March 1959, an unusual invitation to attend a theatrical performance at the Chinese military headquarters outside Lhasa was extended to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama, at the time studying for his lharampa geshe degree, initially postponed the meeting, but the date was eventually set for 10 March. On 9 March, the head of the Dalai Lama’s bodyguard was visited by Chinese army officers. The officers insisted that the Dalai Lama would not be accompanied by his traditional armed escort to the performance, and that no public ceremony for the Dalai Lama’s procession from the palace to the camp should take place, counter to tradition.
According to historian Tsering Shakya, the Chinese government was pressuring the Dalai Lama to attend the People’s Congress in April 1959, in order to repair China’s image with relation to ethnic minorities after the Khampa’s rebellion. On 7 February 1959, a significant day on the Tibetan calendar, the Dalai Lama attended a religious dance, after which the acting representative in Tibet, Tan Guansan, offered the Dalai Lama a chance to see a performance from a dance troupe native to Lhasa at the Norbulingka to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s completion of his lharampa geshe degree. According to the Dalai Lama’s memoirs, the Dalai Lama agreed, but said that the Norbulingka did not have the facilities, and suggested the new auditorium in the PLA headquarters in Lhasa as a more appropriate venue. Neither the Kashag nor the Dalai Lama’s bodyguards were informed of the Dalai Lama’s plans until Chinese officials briefed them on 9 March, one day before the performance was scheduled, and insisted that they would handle the Dalai Lama’s security. Some members of the Kashag were alarmed that were not also invited to lead a customary armed procession, recalling a prophecy that told that the Dalai Lama should not exit his palace.
According to historian Tsering Shakya, some Tibetan government officials feared that plans were being laid for a Chinese abduction of the Dalai Lama, and spread word to that effect amongst the inhabitants of Lhasa. On 10 March, several thousand Tibetans surrounded the Dalai Lama’s palace to prevent him from leaving or being removed. The huge crowd had gathered in response to a rumor that the Chinese communists were planning to arrest the Dalai Lama when he went to a cultural performance at the PLA’s headquarters. This marked the beginning of the uprising in Lhasa, though Chinese forces had skirmished with guerrillas outside the city in December of the previous year. Although CCP offcials insisted that the “reactionary upper stratum” in Lhasa was responsible for the rumor, there is no way to identify the precise source. At first, the violence was directed at Tibetan officials perceived not to have protected the Dalai Lama or to be pro-Chinese; attacks on Hans started later. One of the first casualties of mob was a senior lama, Pagbalha Soinam Gyamco, who worked with the PRC as a member of the Preparatory Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, who was killed and his body dragged by a horse in front of the crowd for two kilometres.
On 12 March, protesters appeared in the streets of Lhasa declaring Tibet’s independence. Barricades went up on the streets of Lhasa, and Chinese and Tibetan rebel forces began to fortify positions within and around Lhasa in preparation for conflict. A petition of support for the armed rebels outside the city was taken up, and an appeal for assistance was made to the Indian consul. Chinese and Tibetan troops continued moving into position over the next several days, with Chinese artillery pieces being deployed within range of the Dalai Lama’s summer palace, the Norbulingka. On 15 March, preparations for the Dalai Lama’s evacuation from the city were set in motion, with Tibetan troops being employed to secure an escape route from Lhasa. On 17 March, two artillery shells landed near the Dalai Lama’s palace, triggering his flight into exile. On 19 March the Chinese started to shell the Norbulingka, prompting the full force of the Uprising. According to the freetibet website, on 21 March 800 shells rained down on the palace, including the shelling of the Norbulingka and Lhasa’s major monasteries, slaughtering thousands of Tibetan men, women and children. Combat lasted only about two days, with Tibetan rebel forces being badly outnumbered and poorly armed.
241 BC – First Punic War: Battle of the Aegates Islands – The Romans sink the Carthaginian fleet bringing the First Punic War to an end.
298 – Roman Emperor Maximian concludes his campaign in North Africa against the Berbers, and makes a triumphal entry into Carthage.
1607 – Susenyos defeats the combined armies of Yaqob and Abuna Petros II at the Battle of Gol in Gojjam, making him Emperor of Ethiopia.
1629 – Charles I of England dissolves the Parliament, beginning the eleven-year period known as the Personal Rule.
1735 – An agreement between Nadir Shah and Russia is signed near Ganja and Russian troops are withdrawn from Baku.
1762 – French Huguenot Jean Calas, who had been wrongly convicted of killing his son, dies after being tortured by authorities; the event inspired Voltaire to begin a campaign for religious tolerance and legal reform.
1804 – Louisiana Purchase: In St. Louis, Missouri, a formal ceremony is conducted to transfer ownership of the Louisiana Territory from France to the United States.
1814 – Napoleon I of France is defeated at the Battle of Laon in France.
1830 – The KNIL also known as the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army is created.
1831 – The French Foreign Legion is established by King Louis-Philippe to support his war in Algeria.
1848 – The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is ratified by the United States Senate, ending the Mexican-American War.
1861 – El Hadj Umar Tall seizes the city of Segou, destroying the Bambara Empire of Mali.
1864 – American Civil War: The Red River Campaign begins as Union troops reach Alexandria, Louisiana.
1876 – Alexander Graham Bell makes the first successful telephone call by saying “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.”
1891 – Almon Strowger, an undertaker in Topeka, Kansas, patents the Strowger switch, a device which led to the automation of telephone circuit switching.
1906 – The Courrieres mine disaster, Europe’s worst ever, kills 1099 miners in Northern France.
1909 – By signing the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909, Thailand relinquished its sovereignty over the Malay states of Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu, which became British protectorates.
1917 – Batangas is formally founded as one of the Philippines’s earliest encomiendas.
1922 – Mahatma Gandhi is arrested in India, tried for sedition, and sentenced to six years in prison, only to be released after nearly two years for an appendicitis operation.
1933 – An earthquake in Long Beach, California kills 115 people and causes an estimated $40 million dollars in damage.
1944 – Greek Civil War: The Political Committee of National Liberation is established in Greece by the National Liberation Front.
1945 – The U.S. Army Air Force firebombs Tokyo, and the resulting firestorm kills more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians.
1952 – Fulgencio Batista leads a successful coup in Cuba and appoints himself as the “provisional president”.
1959 – Tibetan uprising: Fearing an abduction attempt by China, 300,000 Tibetans surround the Dalai Lama’s palace to prevent his removal.
1966 – Military Prime Minister of South Vietnam Nguyen Cao Ky sacked rival General Nguyen Chanh Thi, precipitating large-scale civil and military dissension in parts of the nation.
1969 – In Memphis, Tennessee, James Earl Ray pleads guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King Jr. He later retracts his guilty plea.
1970 – Vietnam War: Captain Ernest Medina is charged with My Lai war crimes.
1975 – Vietnam War: North Vietnamese troops attack Ban Me Thuot, South Vietnam, on their way to capturing Saigon.
1977 – Rings of Uranus: Astronomers discover rings around Uranus.
1980 – Madeira School headmistress Jean Harris shoots and kills Scarsdale diet doctor Herman Tarnower
1980 – Formation of the Irish Army Ranger Wing
1990 – In Haiti, Prosper Avril is ousted 18 months after seizing power in a coup.
2000 – The NASDAQ Composite stock market index peaks at 5132.52, signaling the beginning of the end of the dot-com boom.
2006 – The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrives at Mars.
2008 – The New York Times reveals that Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer had patronized a prostitution service.
* Christian Feast Day
* Hote Matsuri (Shiogama, Japan)
* Tibetan Uprising Day (Tibetan independence supporters)