Name: Sonam Dorjee
Interview Age: 76
Date of Birth: 1939
Birthplace: Gapa, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 42N
Location: Jampaling, Tanahun, Gandaki, Nepal
Categories: Resistance and Revolution
Keywords: Chushi Gangdrug guerrillas, Dalai Lama -- escape, escape experiences, Chinese -- first appearance of, guerrillas in Mustang, Kham
Sonam Dorjee was born in Gapa in Kham Province to a nomadic family. As a child he did not have any special chores and spent his time playing. At the age of 18 Sonam Dorjee went along with his uncles on a business trip to Lhasa. He shares his joy at seeing the famous Jowo statue and his first glimpse of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He liked Lhasa so much that he had no interest in returning to his hometown.
Sonam Dorjee decided to join the Chushi Gangdrug [Defend Tibet Volunteer Force] at the age of 18 years old. He knew that Amdo and Kham were under attack by the Chinese and he wanted to defend his country. He talks about the resistant force's encounters with the Chinese army and the glaring difference in number of troops, arms and ammunition. Despite relentless Chinese firing, he believes his life was spared due to a protective amulet and the grace of God.
Sonam Dorjee recounts the role of the Chushi Gangdrug in escorting the Dalai Lama on his escape to India. He was assigned to help the 10,000 Tibetans escaping through Lhoka. They faced immense hardships during the journey being pursued by Chinese soldiers and traveling through dangerous snow-covered terrain. Sonam Dorjee rejoined the Chushi Gangdrug in Mustang from 1963-74 observing spies that tried to infiltrate.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Palden Tsering (Interpreter)
- Dhiraj Kafle (Videographer)