Name: Tenzin Dechen
Interview Age: 60
Date of Birth: 1952
Birthplace: Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1982
Political Prisoner: Yes
Interview No.: 70D
Location: Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India
Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment
Keywords: Buddhist beliefs, childhood memories, commune system, Dalai Lama, monasteries -- destruction of , escape experiences, imprisonment, Kham, refugee in India -- life as, Chinese rule -- life under, monastic life, 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.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Thupten Kelsang Dakpa (Interpreter)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)