Palden Gyatso

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Palden Gyatso, July 2000, France

Palden Gyatso (born 1933 in Panam, Tibet) is a Tibetan Buddhist monk who was born in Tibet in 1933.[1] During the Chinese invasion of Tibet he was arrested for protesting and spent 33 years in Chinese prisons and labor camps,[1][2][3] where he was extensively tortured.[1] After his release in 1992 he fled to Dharamsala, (North India) in exile.[4] He is still a practising monk and political activist, traveling the world publicizing the cause of Tibet.[4][5] He is the subject of the 2008 film Fire Under the Snow.[6]


Palden Gyatso was born in the Tibetan village of Panam in 1933. This place is located at Nyangchu river between Gyantse and Shigatse. In 1943 he entered Gadong monastery as a novice monk. During the Chinese invasion he was nominated as a fully ordained monk of the Gelug school. Later he studied in Drepung monastery which is close to Lhasa.

After the 1959 Tibetan uprising, Palden Gyatso was arrested by Chinese officials.[1] He spent the following 33 years in different Chinese prisons and labour camps.[3] He was forced to participate in barbarous reeducation classes and was brutally tortured,[3][7] leading to irreversible physical damage. During this time, he continued to abide by the Dharma (Buddha's teachings).[4]

1992 Palden Gyatso was released. He escaped to Dharamsala in India,[4] the place of the Tibetan exile government. There he wrote his autobiography Fire Under The Snow in Tibetan,[7] since translated into many other languages and the subject of a forthcoming film.[4][6]

During his following visits in America and Europe he became politically active as an opponent of the Chinese occupation in Tibet and as a witness of many years under Chinese confinement.[3] In 1995 he was heard by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.[1] In 1998, he won the John Humphrey Freedom Award from the Canadian human rights group Rights & Democracy.[8] In 2009 he spoke at the inaugural Oslo Freedom Forum.

These days Palden Gyatso is living in Dharamsala and following his Buddhist studies.[4]

See also[edit]


  • Fire Under The Snow, Palden Gyatso, The Harvill Press, 1997, London (ISBN 1 86046 509 9)


External links[edit]