Interviewee Profile

Name: Tenzin Sangmo
(Alias: Yes)

Gender: Female

Interview Age: 58

Date of Birth: 1942

Birthplace: Kham, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1985

Profession: Nun

Monk/Nun: Currently

Political Prisoner: Yes

Interview Details

Interview No.: 70M

Date: 2010-04-14

Language: Tibetan

Location: Doeguling Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India

Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment

Keywords: brutality/torture, Chinese -- oppression under, Chinese rule -- life under, escape experiences, imprisonment, Kham, monastic life, refugee in Nepal -- life as, resistance fighters, thamzing/struggle sessions


Since her childhood, Tenzin Sangmo and her family suffered under Chinese rule in Tibet. She describes the resistance put up by her father and all the men in her village who were above 15 years old. They were defeated by the Chinese and many were killed. She talks in great detail about the sufferings of her uncles who were torture and imprisoned by the Chinese for being monks and practicing Buddhism. Many other villagers were also tortured and died as a result.

Tenzin Sangmo secretly took the first step to becoming a nun at the age of 30 during a pilgrimage to Lhasa. There were no nunneries in her village and dreamed of seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama in person so she vowed to risk her life to escape to India. She pretended to go back to Lhasa on pilgrimage then embarked on a very long journey to reach India. She escaped with a fellow nun and two young monks climbing over the mountains without knowing the way. Eventually they crossed over the border into Nepal and found a bus going to Kathmandu.

After working for some time in Kathmandu Tenzin Sangmo was able to travel to Dharamsala, India, and meet the Dalai Lama. She requested that he let her be ordained as a nun and joined a nunnery in Mundgod. She made one final journey back to her village, during which she was imprisoned on the way and then closely monitored at home, but she eventually returned to India.

Interview Team:

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

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Tenzin Sangmo (alias) on 4/14/2010

Length: 02:36:17

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