Name: Pasang Tsewang
Interview Age: 74
Date of Birth: 1938
Birthplace: Phari, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1974
Political Prisoner: Yes
Interview No.: 21D
Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India
Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment
Keywords: brutality/torture, childhood memories, commune system, education, Chinese -- first appearance of, forced labor, imprisonment, Chinese -- oppression under, resistance, thamzing/struggle sessions, trade, Utsang
Pasang Tsewang hails from Phari, near the board with Bhutan. His family farmed and paid taxes to the government of Tibet. His father also engaged in trade between Kalimpong in India and Phari. He purchased goods in India which he then traded with nomads for wool and butter.
The Chinese appeared in Phari when Pasang Tsewang was 12 years old. He recounts that the Chinese first lured Tibetans with gifts and silver coins and assisted them in their daily chores. He goes on to relate in depth the larger acts employed by the Chinese to befriend Tibetans, such as opening a hospital, starting schools, constructing roads, giving aid to the poor and salaries to the wealthy. After the initial friendliness, the Chinese revealed their plans to "liberate" Tibetans and confiscated land and possessions from many townspeople, including Pasang Tsewang. He describes witnessing and participating in thamzing 'struggle sessions.' He also gives an account of the extensive interrogations, tortures, forced labor, starvation and executions that the Chinese carried out. He himself was imprisoned for 2.5 years and forced to study Communist doctrines.
Pasang Tsewang gives a vivid account of the underground association that was established with the objective of escorting His Holiness the Dalai Lama back to Tibet. He describes the founders and activities, which were mainly tracking the movement of Chinese troops. After eight years of secret meetings, 21 members were imprisoned after the association was discovered.
- Matthew Akester (Interviewer)
- Ronny Novick (Videographer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)