This Tibetan Poet’s Haunting Words Will Show You What It’s Like To Be Born In Exile

Posted on October 11, 2016 in Human Rights, Staff Picks, Video

By Sourya Majumder:

“I am born refugee. I have 3 tongues.”

Tenzin Tsundue was, in his own words, born in one country but into the history and struggles of another. His parents were forced to flee their motherland, Tibet, in 1959 for fear of being persecuted by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Tenzin was born – at an unspecified date – in one of the many camps that his parents shifted between as refugees in India. He was raised and educated in different places in India- from Bombay to Dharamshala, where he now lives – but he inherited the ancient culture of his people, as well as their long freedom struggle against the occupying forces of the PRC.

Tenzin has taken up this cause – for the right to self-determination for his people, and for his own right to return to his motherland – and his fiery words and complete commitment to non-violent rebellion show his passion. A passion that shines through in some of his stunningly staged protests – whether climbing scaffolding in 2002 to protest then Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji in 2002 from opposite his hotel balcony in Mumbai, or repeating a similar stunt in 2005 in Bangalore to protest then Premier Wen Jiabao. Tenzin, now General Secretary of Friends of Tibet (India), has led and participated in marches and protests around the world, and been arrested multiple times. But perhaps his strongest, most affecting weapons are still his words.

Take a look for yourself:

“For me the whole idea of being a refugee is so very funny.”

“We shaved our heads bald and threatened to die by fasting – but we failed. I couldn’t die.”

“I cannot cry inside my room – I have cried enough/In prisons, and in small moments of despair.”

“Open your door. Let me in. I’m resting at your doorstep.”

“39 years in exile, yet no nation supports us.”


Listen to Tenzin’s haunting poetry live this November 12 at YKA’s flagship event, CONVERGE.

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