“Shadow Circus: The CIA in Tibet,” a revealing documentary that highlights the U.S. role in providing assistnce to Tibetans who violently resisted Chinese invaders and then, ultimately, abandoning them, will be aired nationally in the U.S. on public television in May.
“Shadow Circus” will be shown nationally in the U.S. on Public Television (see listing for your local station schedule) in May 2002 as part of the Asia Pacific Heritage Month.
The documentary, by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, details the role of Tibet during the Cold War and revives the debate on the need for a long-term American policy on Tibet.
From the mid 1950s until 1969 the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was involved in a covert operation in Tibet. This project, one of the longest-running operations by CIA, was code-named ST CIRCUS.
The CIA started the operation because the Tibetans, who were then resisting the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet, fit into a larger U.S. Cold War-era policy: destabilizing or overthrowing Communist regimes. When the policy changed with the United States warming its relations with the People’s Republic of China, the Tibetans were abandoned.
“The CIA’s operation may have given the Tibetans false hope at a time when they could have looked for alternative solutions,” said John Ackerly President of the International Campaign for Tibet.
“Shadow Circus not only shows how quickly America’s position changed but also how a violent resistance movement can become non-violent,” Ackerly added.
Shadow Circus reveals this little known chapter in Tibet’s tragic modern history. The documentary contains archival footage as well as exclusive interviews with former Tibetan resistance members and CIA operatives involved in the operation.
Among former CIA officials interviewed include Ken Knaus, coordinator of the Tibet Program; Roger McCarthy, who set up the CIA operations in Tibet; John Greaney, who worked with the Pentagon to set up the training for the Tibetans at Camp Hale in Colorado; and Bruce Walker, who spent considerable time at Camp Hale where the Tibetans were trained.
The documentary is being screened across the United States as the United States Congress is considering a comprehensive legislation on Tibet, the Tibetan Policy Act, and comes soon after the Chinese Vice President, Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States.
Please visit www.pbs.org for a possible viewing in your area.