Interviewee Profile

Name: Tenzin Dechen
(Alias: Yes)

Gender: Female

Interview Age: 60

Date of Birth: 1952

Birthplace: Kham, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1982

Profession: Farming

Monk/Nun: Currently

Political Prisoner: Yes

Interview Details

Interview No.: 70D

Date: 2012-05-23

Language: Tibetan

Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India

Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment

Keywords: Buddhist beliefs, childhood memories, Chinese rule -- life under, commune system, Dalai Lama, escape experiences, imprisonment, Kham, monasteries -- destruction of , monastic life, refugee in India -- life as, starvation


Tenzin Dechen was born into a large family in 1952. Her father was put in charge of all the property that the Chinese confiscated from wealthier villagers. He took pity on refugees arriving from other villages and gave them housing and supplies. For this her father was sent to prison when she was only 9 years old. Tenzin Dechen's mother and aunt struggled to feed and clothe the large family on their own. They lived under the commune system launched by the Chinese, who awarded stars to the workers on the basis of which a person was allotted food grains.

Tenzin Dechen recounts her father's suffering in prison for six years and his stories about prisoners who died of starvation. She talks about how the biography of Jetsun Milarepa inspired her to become a nun at the age of 25 and how she covertly wore robes and covered her shaven head because religious practice was not allowed under Chinese occupation.

Tenzin Dechen escaped to India in 1982. She recollects her escape, the suffering during the journey, arrest by Chinese, the vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama she saw and her life in the Gaden Choeling Nunnery in Dharamsala for 13 years. She describes her trip to Tibet to visit her siblings in 2011 and her imprisonment by Chinese.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Thupten Kelsang Dakpa (Interpreter)
  • Pema Tashi (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Tenzin Dechen (alias) on 5/23/2012

Length: 01:39:26

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