Political Prisoners: Palden Gyatso and Ama Adhe

  • Laurie Hovell McMillin


In discussing the urgency of the Tibetan political situation, Robert Thurman has suggested that, for contemporary human rights activists, Tibetans are today’s baby seals. Although the atrocities experienced by many political refugees and prisoners from Tibet are real enough, it is nonetheless troubling to see “the Tibetan question” become a cause celebre. In becoming popular, the “Tibetan cause” too easily becomes a commodity, one that will fall out of favor like last year’s must-have toy. Nonetheless, a recent “poster child” of the Tibetan independence movement, as one scholar of Tibetan Buddhism phrased it to me, is Palden Gyatso, a toothless, elderly Gelukpa monk who spent over 30 years in prison in Chinese-occupied Tibet. This unassuming monk came into exile expressly to bear witness to what he had seen, carrying with him a bag of torture instruments used on Tibetan political prisoners, the ones the Chinese government claims are not in prison at all, the ones China claims are not tortured.


Life Story Esteemed Body Political Prisoner Narrative Strategy Oral Narrative 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    James E. Young, W riting and R ewriting the H olocaust: N arrative and the C onsequences of I nterpretation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), p. 24.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Saul Friedlander, “Introduction,” Probing the Limits of Representation: Nazism and the Final Solution, ed. Saul Friedlander (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), p. 3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin, 1964).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Palden Gyatso, “Prologue,” Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk (NewYork: Grove Press, 1997), no page number.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Palden Gyatso, Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk, p. 3. Subsequent citations are noted by page number in the text.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    See Bogle, Ms. Eur. E226/25, 10 March 1775, and Clements Markham, Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa (New Delhi: Manjusri, 1971 [1876]), p. 177.Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    Jacques Derrida, O f G rammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    Samphel, “Translator’s Note,” in Tsering Dorje Gashi, New Tibet: Memoirs of a Graduate of the Peking Institute of National Minorities (Dharamsala: Information Office of HHDL, 1980), p. 1.Google Scholar
  9. 17.
    David Patt, Strange Liberation: Tibetan Lives in Chinese Hands (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 1992), p. 33.Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    Dalai Lama, “Foreword,” The Voice that Remembers: A Tibetan Womans Inspiring Story of Survival (Boston:Wisdom, 1997), p. vii.Google Scholar
  11. 21.
    Adhe Tapontsang, “Prologue,” The Voice that Remembers: A Tibetan Womans Inspiring Story of Survival (Boston:Wisdom, 1997), p. 3.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Ibid., p. 4.Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    Adams, “Karaoke in Modern Tibet, Lhasa,” in Cultural Anthropology (Vol. 11, no. 4, 1996), pp. 510–546.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Laurie Hovell McMillin 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurie Hovell McMillin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations