Tibetan monk to speak on his experiences in prison camps

Juneau World Affairs Council sponsors Gyatso's trip to Juneau

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2003

Tibetan monk Palden Gyatso spent 33 years in and out of prisons and labor camps for peacefully protesting the invasion and occupation of his homeland by the Chinese government. All 39 members of his family have been killed since the Chinese takeover in 1959. He was released in 1992 at the age of 61 and immigrated to India.

Gyatso will speak at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, at the Dimond Courthouse, and at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, in the UAS Egan Library. The Juneau World Affairs Council is sponsoring his trip to Juneau, and Amnesty International is sponsoring his lecture at UAS.

Gyatso, who became a monk at age 10, said his will to survive the torture and imprisonment came from the older captives who implored him to survive so he could tell their story. "From the beginning, my purpose is to educate people on what happened in Tibet, to people like myself. So many people in Western Europe and America do not know that Tibet was a separate nation and our government went through tremendous tragedy through the brutal force of the Chinese. Freedom is such a natural love for everybody; as a human being I must work for freedom," he said.

Gyatso has traveled tirelessly in his quest to intercede for the people of Tibet, making 26 trips to the U.S. alone. In his 1997 "Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk," Gyatso illustrated the brutality that he endured and which continues today.

"My story is not a glamorous one of high lamas and exotic ritual, but of how a simple monk succeeded in surviving the destructive forces of a totalitarian ideology," stated Gyatso in his book.

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