Tibet in Chains: The Stories of Nine Tibetan Nuns

Tibet in Chains: The Stories of Nine Tibetan Nuns

Compiled by the International Campaign for Tibet

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In the early 1990s, the notorious prisons in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa held hundreds of political prisoners who protested against China’s misrule in Tibet. Among them were a group of 14 nuns, mostly from Garu nunnery near Lhasa, who were imprisoned in the dreaded Drapchi Prison. On account of their comradeship and solidarity, including in recording a song in praise of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibet, they came to be known as the Drapchi 14. This book tells the story of nine of those nuns and provides a better understanding of the role played by Tibetan nuns in the Tibetan freedom movement.

In this book, each nun shares her own story in her own words, describing her family, early life in Tibet, dedication to Tibetan Buddhism and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, torture faced in prison and drawing strength from her fellow nuns. They describe beatings with bamboo sticks, torture with electric cattle prods, and a long list of shocking, inhumane conditions. But the nuns continued to resist. They secretly recorded songs calling for Tibet's independence and praising their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Their sentences were extended as a result. That is why they are known as "the singing nuns".

Through their personal stories, we are able to have a sense of their life in Tibet, of their motivation to speak up against oppression —despite the certainty that they would be severely punished— and of the importance of Tibetan religion, culture and identity, and why the world should not forsake the Tibetan people. “I will always remember my former prison mates who suffer ill health. I always support and participate in movements for the cause of Tibet and the Tibetan people. In the beginning, I had little knowledge of the history of Tibet but knew clearly that China and Tibet were separate ... Because the cause of Tibet is deeply embedded in our hearts, and until this long-felt aspiration is fulfilled, my spirit will never die.” – Sonam Choedon, one of the nuns featured in the book.

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