Name: Sonam Tsomo
Interview Age: 65
Date of Birth: 1945
Birthplace: Banja, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 45M
Location: Doeguling Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India
Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment
Keywords: childhood memories, escape experiences, Chinese -- first appearance of, refugee in India -- life as, Chinese rule -- life under, Chinese -- oppression under, taxes, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang
Sonam Tsomo's parents were farmers and paid taxes to the government in the form of butter, grains and flour as well as medicinal plants that they acquired from tribesmen living on the border between Tibet and India. She explains that taxation was often an overwhelming burden passed down from one generation to the next. Many people struggled to meet the taxes and could face punishment by the tax collector if they could not make full payments.
Sonam Tsomo describes the first appearance of Chinese in her region, who originally came with wives and children, but were gradually replaced by soldiers. As a child she witnessed the thamzing 'struggle session' of her aunt, who hailed from a rich family. She speaks about how her aunt and other wealthy villagers were subjected to beatings by their own servants, who received strict instructions to do so by the Chinese. Her aunt was forced to wear her maids' clothing and move into the servants' quarters, while the former servants occupied her home.
Sonam Tsomo's family decided to escape and she recounts their strategy in leaving their belongings in the house as if they were still living there to escape the prying eyes of the watchful Chinese soldiers. Their escape journey was wrought with difficulties, which included crossing a bamboo bridge that swung dangerously and a short airplane ride.
- Rebecca Novick (Interviewer)
- Ronny Novick (Videographer)
- Namgyal Tsering (Interpreter)
Link: Watch On Youtube
Topic: Interview with Sonam Tsomo on 4/13/2010