Venerable Golok Damchoe Palsang
LG. I am happy to have the opportunity to hear your story.
GDP. I was born in the Golog area in Khamsur, Amdo in 1946. My father's name is Thubten and my motheršs name is Kunchok. When I was 8 years his father passed away. During my childhood, I wanted to become a Monk, and be a compassionate person, but unfortunately in the year 1958 when I was only 11 years the Chinese people came into this area and took away any opportunity I had to study. Since 1958, my sister and I have lived away from our home. In my familyon my mother's and father's sidethere has been a total of 19 people who have been killed or have died from starvation since that time.
LG. Describe where you lived.
GDP. The Golog area is the highest place in Amdo, and most of the people who live there are nomads. My home was not in a house but in a tent. Originally, my village had 20 to 30 families, but since 1958, only 3 families remain. The rest have been killed by the Chinese because these people struggled against the Chinese army.
LG. Why were they arrested? Why were they killed?
GDP. Because these people were stronger than the Chinese army.
LG. The Chinese say that they came to liberate the Tibetan people. Are you saying something else?
GDP. In Golog there was a 40th Anniversary Liberation Ceremony. At that time they issued a book, which said that the Chinese government accepted that although they had liberated the Tibetan people, at the same time the "leftist" element had made many mistakes.
LG. Can you give some examples of what your life was like before the Chinese came. How did you spend your time? What did you do, etc.
GDP. The Chinese came to Golog in 1951. At that time, I was so young, I cannot remember what it was like before they came. But I know from history that the Golog area had a culture going back 640 years. Before that time, the Golog people actually came from an area in Kham called "Khamgo-kho" where they had been farmers for about 200 years before they became nomads.
LG. Do the Golog people consider themselves part of the Amdo people, or do they think of themselves as separate?
GDP. The Golog people consider themselves to part of Amdo. The Golog people are divided into three groups. They originally came from three different families who lived in the eastern, western, and northern region of Golog.
LG. I donšt understand. Is the whole area where these people lived called Golog or is the village called Golog?
GDP. The whole area is called Golog. This is part of history.
LG. According to history, what religion did these people practice before the Chinese came?
GDP. Most of the people practiced Buddhism in the Nyingma tradition and also recently in the Gelug tradition. However, in the very beginning of Golog history there was the practice of the Bon religion.
LG. Before the Chinese came, how many Monks and how many Nuns were there in the Golog area?
GDP. There are different explanations. The 40th Year Anniversary Book says that in 1957 there were only 50,000 people in Golog. In 1982, the census said there were 50,000 (1 lak) people. Also, they said that in 1957 there was 30,000. But in 1958, according to the compilation of some high officials, there were 30,000 people in the Golog area.
LG. But what do the Golog people say?
GDP. Golog people don't know exactly what the amount of population was. But they understand that many of the religious population have gone come and gone.
LG. What is your guess about the percent of the population that were Monks and Nuns before the Chinese came?
GDP. More and more Nuns but the Monks were about 30% of the population.
LG. What about the number of Gompa (Temples) before the Chinese?
GDP. There were 77 monasteries before they came.
LG. The Chinese started coming in 1951? And the people didnšt want the Chinese?
LG. How did the people treat the Chinese when they were coming? What did the Golog people do to fight the Chinese?
GDP. The Golog population decreased by 78.96% in the years between 1953 to 1964. Almost all the people of Golog were killed. The Golog army fought the Chinese and sometimes was victorious. When the Chinese Communist party came to the Golog area then the Golog people felt that they canšt get victory. Since 1957 and 1958 then the Chinese really soft and peaceful and talking sweet and planning schools and things like that. And no wars until 1958. Then in May of 1958 they started fighting and creating war. Then in 1959 the fighting was finished. In 1959 and 1960 the Golog peoplešs population was only 50,000. This is a result of starvation.
LG. What kind of weapons did the Chinese have and what kind of weapons did the Golog people have?
GDP. The Chinese people used machine guns, and the Golog people used guns from India which the Tibetan people call "bora-da." The one gun they call "sempa-ja."
LG. You said that the Golog region is very high and very mountainous. The Golog people know mountains very well but the Chinese people are not accustomed to mountains. How was the Chinese army able to survive in the mountains and capture the Golog people?
GDP. The main reason is that the Tibetan army was smaller than the Chinese army.
LG. Did you see any of the fighting with your own eyes?
GDP. Yes, I did.
LG. Could you share a few experiences?
GDP. In 1968, there was an area where 10,000 Golog people took part in a demonstration. Because of the Cultural Revolution, they could not make puja offerings and they could not live under such a rule. And I participated in this demonstration and the Chinese people sent me to jail And also, one of my uncles, named Jamyang Somo, and one of my relatives, Tar-lak was killed at that time.
LG. You saw this?
GDP. Yes. I saw this. Yes, they killed them together.
LG. What was your job in this demonstration?
GDP. There were not any special kinds of jobs. But all of the people participated in this demonstration. We yelled, "Chinese go back to China" and "Tibet belongs to Tibetans." I was the head of my village.
LG. You were the head of your village? In 1958, when the Chinese came, you weren't a monk?
LG. Between 1958 and 1968, most of the men in Golog were in prison or were killed or were starved.
LG. What were the villages like without the men? How did the women take care of everything?