Name: Sonam Bhuti
Interview Age: 90
Date of Birth: 1923
Birthplace: Khelkhar, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 13B
Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India
Categories: Chinese Invasion and Occupation
Keywords: customs/traditions, escape experiences, Chinese rule -- life under, pilgrimage, taxes, trade, Utsang, business practices/livelihood, marriage practices, myths/stories
Sonam Bhuti was born in Khelkhar village near Gyangtse. A very holy pilgrim site of Guru Padmasambhava called Khelkhar Daduk exists nearby and she gives a vivid description of the rock caves inside which a miraculous spray of water appears after prayer rituals.
Sonam Bhuti left home for an arranged marriage at the age of 19. She describes the clandestine manner in which she was taken to the bridegroom's house in Phari. Her in-laws were a wealthy taxpaying family, who owned a large house, a store and land. They traveled to Kolkata in India to purchase goods for the shop and Sonam Bhuti helped manage a very prosperous business.
Sonam Bhuti saw how the Chinese initially treated the Tibetans with false generosity and then began political education programs and deceived the poor by awarding titles and money. She recounts the thamzing 'struggle sessions,' imprisonment, hard labor, political indoctrination imposed by the Chinese, which resulted in animosity and division in the Tibetan society.
Sonam Bhuti's family was closely watched which made escaping very difficult. She describes in detail how her family fled while the whole town of Phari was watching a theatrical performance. She had no regrets leaving behind all her wealth and possessions in order to escape from "hell."
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Pema Tashi (Videographer)