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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Kelsang Dorjee on 4/12/2010

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Published on Jan 19, 2018

The interpreter's English translation provided during this interview is potentially incomplete and/or inaccurate. If you are not fluent in Tibetan, please refer to the interview transcript for the complete and correct English translation. Read the interview transcript in English at http://tibetoralhistory.org/Interview...

** This interview about life in Tibet was conducted by the Tibet Oral History Project. This non-profit organization aims to preserve the history and culture of the Tibetan people by interviewing elderly Tibetan refugees about life in Tibet before and after the Chinese invasion. Learn more at http://www.TibetOralHistory.org.

** Interview Summary: 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.

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