interviews / November 20, 2016

Tibet Interviews

  • When Tibetans think of a place of refuge, they think of India’
    The Karmapa Interview (June 2011)
    While approaching the Gyuto Ramoche monastery in Sidhbari near Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, one is immediately struck by the pervading peace of the complex. Since 2000, the Gyuto or Upper Tantric College, has offered as temporary accommodation, a wing of its premises, to the 17th Karmapa Lama, Ugyen Thinley Dorje, who has been in the news in recent months.
    The 26-year old Lama lives here, surrounded by relatively tight security, with the majestic Dhauladhar range as a background.
    Till now, apart from a few statements issued by his office, the young Lama has refused to come out of his reserve and comment on the accusations levelled against him, particularly the cash donations received by his monastery but not deposited in a bank, and his relations with India.
    For the first time, he agrees to speak to in an exclusive interview to Claude Arpi, who also interviewed the newly elected prime minister of Tibet, Lobsang Sangay, in Dharmsala.
    Throughout the interview, one discovers a remarkable calm young man, deeply interested in Indian culture, in art and the environment of the Himalayas, who is able to see the deeper meaning of the controversies that have surrounded him since he fled from Tibet in 1999, under amazing circumstances.
    He takes time to answer each question, knowing perfectly the importance of his words. He usually prefers to speak through his interpreter, except for the last questions where he showed his proficiency in English and his sense of humour.
  • Why the Dalai Lama Matters
    Interview Prof Robert Thurman (April 2010)
    Prof. Robert Thurman is a well-know figure in the United States. Not only because he was nominated as one of the 25 most influential Americans by the Time Magazine, but also because he is one of oldest supporters of the Dalai Lama, a respected scholar of Columbia University and …the father of Hollywood beauty Uma Thurman.
    He speaks to Claude Arpi about his years as a monk in North India in the 1960’s; his relation with the Dalai Lama (Thurman’s latest best-seller is entitled Why the Dalai Lama matters); the present state of ‘Capitalist’ China; the Buddhist wave in the West; his idea of a Second Renaissance; his work for the preservion old Indian sastras in Columbia University, the Obama-Dalai Lama encounter and his vision for the future of planet.Interviews with Ratuk Ngawang, Thubten Samphel and other Tibetan leaders
  • We cleared the way for the Dalai Lama
    Interview witrh Ratuk Ngawang (March 31, 2009)
    Ratuk Ngawang was one of the senior leaders of the Chushi-Gangdruk (Four Rivers, Six Ranges), a Tibetan guerrilla outfit which fought against Chinese rule and played a key role in the ‘Dalai Lama’ escape to India in March 1959. After the 1962 Sino-Indian border war, Ratuk commanded the Tibetan secret regiment, known as the Special Frontier Forces, based in Uttar Pradesh.
    Now 82, Ratuk lives in the Tibetan colony of Majnu Ka Tilla in Delhi, and has recently published his memoirs (in Tibetan) in which he recounts his early life in Kham province of Eastern Tibet and the escape to India with the Dalai Lama. In an exclusive interview to Claude Arpi, he reminisces about how his team cleared the way for the ‘Dalai Lama’ escape, killing all Chinese soldiers along the way, the uprising of March 10, 1959, and his meeting with Phunwang, the first Tibetan Communist.
  • Interview Tempa Soepa
    March 25, 2009
    On March 31, the Dalai Lama reached the Indian border in Tawang district of what is today the State of Arunachal Pradesh. A new life as a refugee was starting.
    What are the circumstances which lead to the ‘escape of the century’? Claude Arpi travelled to Dharamsala and met Mr Tempa Soepa who had been intimately linked to the events as a young officer who helped coordinating the escape. Unfortunately for him, he did not make it with the Dalai Lama’s party and was arrested. He spent the following 20 years in a Chinese gulag under the most atrocious conditions. Today, though retired, this very discreet man works in the Private Office of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
  • A refugee`s best friend
    Interview with Thubten Samphel for (March 13, 2009
    Fifty years ago on March 10, 1959, the entire population of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, revolted against the Chinese troops who had invaded the Land of Snows in 1950.
    The uprising failed, and the Tibetan temporal and spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, had no choice but to flee his country and take refuge in India. He was followed by 85,000 of his countrymen.
    Thubten Samphel, now the Secretary of the Department of Information of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, was one of them. Samphel, who fled his country as a child, was educated in one of the best colleges in India, and now works as the spokesperson of the Dalai Lama’s Administration. He has recently penned down his experiences as a refugee in a book, Falling through The Roof, published by Rupa & Co.
  • I think China is changing
    Interview for (April 20, 2006)
    The Chinese may have got into this process because of international pressure. It is not by compassion or because they realized that they have committed some mistakes. Having said that, it was our job to make this happen and gradually the Chinese leadership is being engaged. It is not only for PR purpose, but to resolve the Tibetan issue…
  • A talk by Dr. Tenzin Choedrak
    November 23, 1989
    Dr. Choedrak was born in 1922, in Sneymo near Lhasa. At the age of 10, he was sent to Choday monastery to begin his studies of Buddhism. After a series of graduation he became a Lama and then started studying medicine. Later he became a Tibetan Physician. Because of his outstanding qualifications, he was promoted as Chief Physician to H.H. the Dalai Lama in 1957…
  • Why China will change: The Tibet factor – April 03, 2006 (
    The Tibetan movement is a very unique movement. This can be seen from the way we are conducting the negotiations with the People’s Republic of China. We are doing it in a different way. If one day, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s’ efforts succeed, it will not only have an impact on the six million Tibetans, but it will also be a breakthrough for humanity, because of the nature of our negotiations…
  • A Talk with Dr. Tenzin Choedrak II – November 24, 1989
    The Tibetan medical system dates back some 3000 years. Near Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, there was a land called Olmo Lunging. It is the native land of the original Tibetan religion: Bon religion and of course the Tibetan people themselves. The founder of the Bonpo religion, Lord Sherab Mewo, taught the Tibetan Medical system to his favorite son and disciple called Chetku Trishe who wrote many commentaries and supplementaries on Tibetan medicine. There are around 30 commentaries.
  • Thubten Juchen Namgyal 
    Interview with Kasur Thubten Juchen Namgyal (March 1997)
    (Former Chief Kalon of the Tibetan Cabinet)
    Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamsala March 15, 1997

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