Name: Kelsang Dorjee
Interview Age: 73
Date of Birth: 1937
Birthplace: Khorkya, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 59M
Location: Doeguling Settlement, Mundgod, Karnataka, India
Categories: Culture and History, Oppression and Imprisonment
Keywords: childhood memories, escape experiences, forced labor, imprisonment, nomadic life, Chinese -- oppression under, taxes, thamzing/struggle sessions, Utsang, tenant farmers
Kelsang Dorjee's hailed from a nomadic family, who owned about 100 yaks and 600-700 sheep. His was the wealthiest family in the village. He gives a detailed account of grazing the animals in a systematic manner and describes the differences between summer and winter grazing lands. He also describes how the herds were guarded by dogs to protect them from wolves. Grasslands were leased from the gyero who owned the lands and payment was in the form of sheep and bags of salt. He describes how the tax was calculated and felt that the payments were fairly made for use of the land.
Kelsang Dorjee's village was not directly affected by the Chinese invasion. He witnessed the conditions of a prison in Gytangtse, where wealthy Tibetan were interned by the Chinese, when he tried to deliver food and tea to his wife's uncle. The prisoners endured forced labor and a shortage of food causing them to eat rats, dead horses and leather.
Kelsang Dorjee also witnessed a thamzing 'struggle session' during his visit to Gyangtse and the shocking impact it had on him. Unable to bear the terrible sufferings he saw being meted out to the wealthy Tibetans and fearing his own capture, he chose to escape. He and his family escaped in the night and successfully reached Indian territory. Many of his family members passed away after making the journey.
- Rebecca Novick (Interviewer)
- Ronny Novick (Videographer)
- Namgyal Tsering (Interpreter)
Link: Watch On Youtube
Topic: Interview with Kelsang Dorjee on 4/12/2010