Interviewee Profile

Name: Sonam Gogyal
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 82

Date of Birth: 1925

Birthplace: Re Yago, Utsang, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1961

Profession: Agriculture, Dairy Farming

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: No

Interview Details

Interview No.: 44

Date: 2007-06-25

Language: Tibetan

Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India

Categories: Chinese Invasion and Occupation

Keywords: brutality/torture, Bylakuppe -- early life in , Chinese -- first appearance of, Chinese rule -- life under, escape experiences, landowners, refugee in India -- life as, taxes, Utsang, wealthy/upper class


Sonam Gogyal was educated as a child and held the post of deputy leader of his village from age 22 to 36. He was responsible for collecting taxes from the villagers in the form of grains and animals.

Sonam Gogyal fled Tibet at the age of 36, leaving behind his wife and five children. He quickly chose to escape one night after hearing that the wealthy landowners, which included him, were to be arrested by the Chinese. In four days, he was able to reach Sikkim with a group of 12 others from his village. Thus began the life of a refugee.

Sonam Gogyal moved from Kalimpong to the Bylakkupe settlement, where he was paid to help clear the forests and build the settlement. Later he took up farming and sold sweaters in the Indian cities. Sonam re-married and built a new life with a new family, never seeing his first wife and family in Tibet again.

Interview Team:

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

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Sonam Gogyal on 6/25/2007

Length: 00:57:24

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