Interviewee Profile

Name: Kalsang
(Alias: Yes)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 65

Date of Birth: 1942

Birthplace: Tharpa, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1971

Profession: Monk

Monk/Nun: Previously

Political Prisoner: Yes

Interview Details

Interview No.: 38

Date: 2007-06-28

Language: Tibetan

Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India

Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment

Keywords: brutality/torture, Chinese -- oppression under, Chinese rule -- life under, escape experiences, forced labor, monastic life, refugee in India -- life as, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang


Kalsang became a monk at the early age of 5 and lived at the monastery until he was 17 and forced to leave. In 1959 the Chinese closed the monastery and ordered the monks to return to their families. Kalsang's family, who were well-off, became targets of the Chinese. He and his family were tortured and humiliated in struggle sessions instigated by the Chinese. They were forced to state "that China was very good, that the Tibetan society was bad and that we were very happy under the Chinese government."

Kalsang was required to work in the fields and all the harvests were taken by the Chinese, who gave the workers an insufficient grain ration that often left them hungry. Kalsang's father was arrested and died after eight years in prison.

Later Kalsang learned that he too would be arrested so he decided to flee. He was unsure of how to proceed and he hid for 18 months in a small space underneath a friend's house, only emerging occasionally under the cover of darkness. Eventually his friends were able to find someone to show Kalsang the way to Bhutan.

Interview Team:

  • Martin Newman (Interviewer)
  • Lhakpa Tsering (Interpreter)
  • Tsewang Dorjee (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Kalsang (alias) on 6/28/2007

Length: 01:15:50

© 2009-2018 Tibet Oral History Project. These translations and transcripts are provided for individual research purposes only. For all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: Tibet Oral History Project, P.O. Box 6464, Moraga, CA 94570-6464. Privacy Policy