Interviewee Profile

Name: Sonam
(Alias: Yes)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 67

Date of Birth: 1945

Birthplace: Kham, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 2011

Profession: Farming

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 19D

Date: 2012-05-15

Language: Tibetan

Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India

Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment

Keywords: childhood memories, Chinese -- oppression under, Chinese army -- invasion by , Chinese rule -- life under, commune system, Kham, thamzing/struggle sessions


Sonam was born into a middle class family--his father was a trader and his mother was a farmer. It was a "happy life" with freedom to go to the monasteries, and they had good food and clothing. When the Chinese invaded his village at age 13, Sonam's father escaped to the mountains when people were ordered to surrender their weapons. He recalls how his father was shot in the legs by the Chinese and died from starvation in Dhartsedo prison.

The Chinese gave Sonam's mother the symbolic "hat," the symbol of a counter revolutionary because of the financial status of the family and his father's escape. Sonam describes the Chinese' oppressive rule and the meetings that were held three times a week to torture and insult the accused villagers like his mother. His family lived in fear and Sonam did hard labor, cutting wood, digging earth and building houses.

Sonam also experienced commune life started under Mao Zedong during which everybody had to work together and people had no freedom, even to visit neighboring villages without seeking permission from Chinese officials. He also speaks about his life after the commune system was dissolved and a small amount of religious freedom was restored. Sonam finally left Tibet in 2011 with his wife in order to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
  • Pema Tashi (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Sonam (alias) on 5/15/2012

Length: 01:12:42

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