Tibet was an absolute independent country during its empire periods – the first king Nyatri Tsenpo till the last king Lang Dharma. The empire from the 7th to 9th centuries are called the “Great Tibet” after the powerful empire stretching their expanse of Tibetan plateau to East Asia, Central Asia and South Asia during the reigns of Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen and Tri Ralpachen. However, after the death of King Lang Dharma in 841 circa, the Tibetan empire collapsed and lead to political fragmentation, traditionally ‘the era of fragmentation’. The central government disintegrated into principalities and regional warlords. Notwithstanding the unstable political situation, Tibet relished its independent status.
In 13th century, the Mongols invaded Tibet under the Genghis Khan. Emperor Godan, grandson of Genghis Khan, decided to appoint an influential religious figure as a viceroy to maintain the Mongol Empire’s authority in Tibet. However, during the Phagmodrupa regime (1354-1618) of Tibet, Tibet was recognised as an autonomous kingdom after the Mongol rule, and Tsangpa regime (1565-1642) was the last Tibetan royal dynasty to rule in its own name. The authority was then superseded by the Ganden Phodrang regime (1642) founded by the fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, as the Tibetan Government. During the period of the thirteenth Dalai Lama, Tibet experienced invasions by foreign powers, forcing the Dalai Lama into exile in Mongolia, China and India. He returned to Tibet in 1912 after the Tibetan army drove out the Chinese troops from Tibet, and in the same year he declared Tibet’s independence. Moreover, the Sino-Tibetan Treaty (821/823) AD, treaty with Major Francis E. Younghusband (1904), Anglo-Russian agreement (1907), Mongol-Tibet Treaty (1913), and the Simla Conference (1914) had recognised Tibet as an independent participant state.
In the 60 years since Tibet was incorporated into the People’s Republic of China, Tibetans within its border and in exile have never stopped advocating for their sovereignty. The Chinese government has constantly put its effort to systematically destroy Tibetan identity and Chinese propaganda misconstrued interpretation of Tibet’s sovereignty, which is evident in their insidious approach in restricting the basic human rights in Tibet such as the freedom of speech and religion. However, Tibetan determination outweighs China’s approach. The articles compiled in the book depict the success stories of not giving up by the Tibetans around the world with more supporters and scholars to contribute to this struggle for independence.