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As the Cultural Revolution got under way, Tibet's ancient monasteries and temples were destroyed, many monks and nuns were killed or imprisoned and famine ravaged the country. At the same time, the Mustang operation became mired in internal feuding between the CIA-trained generation of fighters, and the tribal leaders who had started the original resistance.

The final nail in the Tibetan resistance movement was President Nixon's historic rapprochement with China in 1971-72. As Sino-American relations thawed, the Tibetans were left to fend for themselves. After a final burst of funding, the CIA's involvement with Mustang was severed.

The base in Mustang continued operations until 1974, when the Nepalese government decided, under Chinese pressure, to put a stop to it. When the leaders of Mustang refused to surrender, the Dalai Lama intervened to try to prevent a bloodbath. He sent a taped message ordering the fighters to lay down their arms, which was played in each of the camps.

The effect was terrible. The rebels felt they had no choice but to obey their political and spiritual leader, but many of them saw such a surrender as tantamount to suicide. Several soldiers threw themselves into a river and were drowned, and one man, a CIA-trained senior officer named Pachen, handed over his weapons and promptly slit his own throat with a dagger. Wangdu, the Commander of Mustang, tried to flee to India but was ambushed at the Tinker Pass by the Nepalese army and shot dead.

Tenzing Sonam points out that, 'These were men who had been fighting the Chinese since the mid-Fifties, people who had grown up with guns and knives, being asked to surrender their weapons. . . It was the end of everything for them.'

His father was arrested in Pokhara and brought to the Central Jail in Kathmandu, where he was charged with raising a rebel army and smuggling arms. Although for a time it looked as if they might face the death penalty, he and six other Tibetan resistance leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment. He was eventually released in 1981, after an amnesty by the King of Nepal.

Tenzing Sonam sees the struggles of the resistance movement as 'a forgotten chapter in recent Tibetan history. It doesn't fit in with our image of nice, happy, smiling, peaceful people with tinkling bells up in Shangri-la. . . There was a culture of violence in Tibet. We didn't just lie down and ask the Chinese to roll over us.'

For Tenzing, the process of researching the story of CIA involvement in Tibet has made him see his father in a new light. 'It was a revelation to me. I feel much closer to him now that I know what he was doing all through my childhood. In a way, the film is an act of filial devotion. . . I think it's amazing what he did coming from his background, having such single-minded devotion to the cause of Tibetan freedom. He, and a whole generation of our people.'

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