Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Deportation of Tibetan Prisoners

with one comment


Above 9 May 1959 file photo currently in Bettman-Corbis archives showed Tibetan rebels filing out of the Potala Palace to surrender. The Tibetan Uprising against the Chinese authorities in 1959 was one of few undocumented conflicts during the 20th century. The above photo, which contained no information as to how it was taken and by whom, is thus extremely rare.

The photo was thought to be a Chinese propaganda piece. The deportation of the prisoners appears organized and orderly. The column was led by a man bearing a pole to which white scarves are tied as a symbol of surrender and one red flag; to the right stands a Chinese, carrying a photocamera. The photo creates the impression of a peaceful, carefully planned operation with Lhasa’s main attraction in the background, as if this were a postcard. However, the ‘harmless’ impression conveyed by this photo was contradicted by all other reports of the massacre in Lhasa, after which there were ‘piles and plies of bodies reaching up to the branches of the trees’. No corpses, no wounded, no signs of violence–the photograph shows none of the atrocities that accompanied these deportations.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

August 12, 2009 at 5:38 am

Posted in Politics, War

Tagged with , ,

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] Deportation of Tibetan prisoners found here […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: