Name: Tashi Sonam
Interview Age: 81
Date of Birth: 1933
Birthplace: Chusi, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1971
Profession: Nomad, Farming
Political Prisoner: Yes
Interview No.: 4C
Location: Richmond, California, United States
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, monasteries -- destruction of , escape experiences, Chinese -- first appearance of, Chinese rule -- life under, medical treatment, Chinese -- oppression under, Utsang
Tashi Sonam was born in Chusi where the villagers were samadok, those who engaged in both farming and rearing animals. However, Tashi Sonam was a doctor and practiced in his village in Tibet. He describes that the profession was hereditary and passed from father to son. He talks about the causes and types of illnesses and the different kinds of medicines dispensed for treatment. He recounts the methods he applied and the various herbs that were gathered in the mountains to be used as medicines. Fees were paid if the patient was able to and if not, treatment was still provided without expectation of payment.
Tashi Sonam recalls that the Chinese first appeared in his region around 1966 and life completely changed in his village. He had a bitter experience and recounts how the Chinese inflicted suffering with arrests, imprisonments, torture, and forced the people to demolish their precious monastery at gun-point. The Tibetans were not allowed to practice their religion.
The oppression under Chinese rule and fear of being arrested drove Tashi Sonam to flee to India leaving behind his wife and children. His ordeal continued in India when he was caught by the Indian police, beaten and imprisoned for three years because they believed he was a Chinese spy. After his release he was sent to live at the Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod, Karnataka, India.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Jeddadiah Emanuel (Videographer)
- Tenzin Tsedup Wangdu (Interpreter)