Name: Tenzin Sangmo
Interview Age: 58
Date of Birth: 1942
Birthplace: Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1985
Political Prisoner: Yes
Interview No.: 70M
Location: Doeguling Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India
Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment
Keywords: brutality/torture, escape experiences, imprisonment, Kham, refugee in Nepal -- life as, Chinese rule -- life under, monastic life, Chinese -- oppression under, 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.
- Rebecca Novick (Interviewer)
- Ronny Novick (Videographer)
- Namgyal Tsering (Interpreter)