Interviewee Profile

Name: Kelsang Dorjee
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 73

Date of Birth: 1937

Birthplace: Khorkya, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1959

Profession: Nomad

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 59M

Date: 2010-04-12

Language: Tibetan

Location: Doeguling Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India

Categories: Culture and History, Oppression and Imprisonment

Keywords: childhood memories, Chinese -- oppression under, escape experiences, forced labor, imprisonment, nomadic life, taxes, tenant farmers, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang


Kelsang Dorjee's hailed from a nomadic family, who owned about 100 yaks and 600-700 sheep. His was the wealthiest family in the village. He gives a detailed account of grazing the animals in a systematic manner and describes the differences between summer and winter grazing lands. He also describes how the herds were guarded by dogs to protect them from wolves. Grasslands were leased from the gyero who owned the lands and payment was in the form of sheep and bags of salt. He describes how the tax was calculated and felt that the payments were fairly made for use of the land.

Kelsang Dorjee's village was not directly affected by the Chinese invasion. He witnessed the conditions of a prison in Gytangtse, where wealthy Tibetan were interned by the Chinese, when he tried to deliver food and tea to his wife's uncle. The prisoners endured forced labor and a shortage of food causing them to eat rats, dead horses and leather.

Kelsang Dorjee also witnessed a thamzing 'struggle session' during his visit to Gyangtse and the shocking impact it had on him. Unable to bear the terrible sufferings he saw being meted out to the wealthy Tibetans and fearing his own capture, he chose to escape. He and his family escaped in the night and successfully reached Indian territory. Many of his family members passed away after making the journey.

Interview Team:

  • Rebecca Novick (Interviewer)
  • Ronny Novick (Videographer)
  • Namgyal Tsering (Interpreter)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Kelsang Dorjee on 4/12/2010

Length: 02:38:17

Short Videos

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Taxes Levied on Nomads for Grazing Area

Length: 00:01:48

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Public Abuse of Wealthy Tibetans

Length: 00:01:57

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