Ama Adhe has spent just over a 1/3 of her life in prison. The 79-year old spent 27 years in captivity for her part in protests against the Chinese invasion of Tibet. She has already released a book about her harrowing ordeal titled ‘The Voice that Remembers: The Heroic Story of a Woman’s Fight to Free Tibet’, and describes the experience as being ‘worse than hell’.
Born in Ghortsa village, Nyarong, Kham, Adhe was a wife and mother before her husband passed away at the young age of 26 in 1958. In a recent interview, she describes her husband as a ‘kind of troublemaker’ for their Chinese oppressors and believes he was poisoned. Soon after this tragedy, her sister was arrested by Chinese authorities before being publicly humiliated and executed in a public square to set an example.
Several months after, she was arrested alongside 300 other women for protesting, she describes the period as the ‘worst time’ in the country. Of all the prisoners taken, only four survived the ordeal, 296 died in captivity. She describes the torment suffered:
“I was taken to eight different prisons in Tibet and China during my period of imprisonment. The most difficult time was the first three years in Inganse prison. We weren’t given any food, just crushed corn in lots of water. A lot of people died from starvation. We ate the soles of our shoes. We were so hungry.”
When she was finally released, the world had changed, this was not the Tibet she had lived and loved. Her son had died and her daughter was a stranger, however the two eventually bonded but Adhe admitted initially feeling closer to her fellow prisoners. Two years after her release in 1987, she fled to Nepal before reaching Dharamsala, India the year after, where she has remained ever since.
She describes her resolve to spread her tale, she said: “When I met His Holiness, he told me that you don’t need to lie or be angry towards the Chinese. You only need to speak the truth, and this truth alone will support us.”
Adhe’s story is one of great determination and strength, however many others in her position are not as fortunate and changes must happen. When asked how she survived, she replies it was through daily prayer. She currently still resides in Dharmsala with her husband. The treatment and conditions suffered by prisoners by the Chinese government is atrocious and inhumane, hundreds are being held in squalor and torture is widespread according to testimonials from ex-political prisoners; we can only estimate how many have died for their rightful voice for freedom.