Name: Wangdak Tashi
Interview Age: 80
Date of Birth: 1937
Birthplace: Tsangyue, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1970
Political Prisoner: Yes
Interview No.: 35U
Location: Clement Town, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment
Keywords: brutality/torture, Buddhist beliefs, Chushi Gangdrug guerrillas, commune system, customs/traditions, Chinese -- first appearance of, imprisonment, Kham, Chinese -- oppression under, sterilization, wealthy/upper class
Wangdak Tashi was born in Tsangyue in Kham Province to a wealthy, ruling class family. As a child he collected shells from the lake, rode horses and studied Buddhist scriptures. His family owned thousands of yaks and eight families worked as servants, who grazed the animals. For this reason, his family was targeted by the invading Chinese and their animals and possession were confiscated. His father, grandfather and uncles were arrested and publicly executed.
Under the Chinese occupation Wangdak Tashi witnessed the destruction of monasteries, the mining of precious minerals, and the killing of wild animals. His region was organized into a commune system and he was forced to graze animals. After his father's murder, he escaped with his mother. He then joined a branch of the Chushi Gangdrug [Defend Tibet Volunteer Force] in Marpothang, which had 11,000 members, including monks and women.
Wangdak Tashi fought Chinese troops with weapons dropped from American planes, but bombs from enemy planes eventually forced them to flee to the Northern Plateau. Later he was captured and imprisoned for eight years. He was subjected to torture, hard labor and sterilization. After learning that he was to be executed, Wangdak Tashi escaped to Ladakh, India. Inspired by news about the death of his mother and other family members, he began practicing chod, a special Buddhist practice to benefit the living and the dead.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Tenzin Choenyi (Videographer)