Songs from Drapchi Prison

Drapchi 14 nuns[L-R Gyaltsen Drolkar, Phuntsog Nyidrol, Ngawang Sangdrol and Namdrol Lhamo in London. Photo Free Tibet]

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The Drapchi 14  གྲྭ་བཞི་ ༡༤

The so-called “Drapchi 14” were a group of nuns who recorded a series of freedom songs whilst detained together in Drapchi prison in June 1993. These young nuns, all of whom had been imprisoned for taking part in peaceful demonstrations calling for Tibetan independence, secretly recorded songs on a tape recorder smuggled into their prison cell. A cassette tape was smuggled out of the prison and copies circulated around the world. The nuns’ prison sentences were extended by between five and nine years for making these recordings.

Ngawang Sangdrol, the youngest of them told Free Tibet: “We recorded the songs because we wanted our families to know that we were still alive, and we wanted Tibetan people to know about our situation and our love for our country. We hoped it would reach our families, but we didn’t know for sure. I had no idea until I arrived in America that people all over the world heard those songs while we were still in prison. Now, it makes me feel so sad to listen to the recording, because I remember our friends in prison who died.”

Vigorous international campaigns led to the early release of a number of this group of nuns although one, 28-year-old Ngawang Lochoe, died in Drapchi prison on 5 February 2001, just one year prior to completion of her 10-year prison sentence. In 2006 the release of Phuntsog Nyidrol, after 15 years in prison, brought to an end the detention of the “singing nuns”; of the surviving 13 nuns, seven are now in exile (Palden Choedron escaped Tibet very recently and arrived in India on 1 September 2010) and the remaining six are still in Tibet. The exiled former prisoners have traveled the world, speaking about their experiences and encouraging individuals and political leaders alike to act in support of the people of Tibet.

A CD of the music recorded by the Drapchi 14 “Seeing Nothing But the Sky” is available from Free Tibet,

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གངས་ལྗོངས། (Land of Snow)

གངས་ལྗོངས་ཡ། གངས་ལྗོངས། ངའི་སྐྱིད་པའི་རྒྱལ་ཁབ།
ངའི་རྩ་བ་བླ་མ་དང་ང་ཚོ། རྒྱ་དམར་གྱིས་ཁ་བྲལ་བཏང་སོང་།
ཕྱོགས་བཅུར་བཞུགས་པའི་སངས་རྒྱས་རྣམས་ཀྱི་ བོད་མིའི་ཆེད་དུ།

གངས་ལྗོངས་ཡ། གངས་ལྗོངས། ངའི་སྐྱིད་པའི་རྒྱལ་ཁབ།
ངའི་རྩ་བའི་བླ་མ། ཁོང་ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུ།

“Land of Snow”

Land of snows, land of snows
My beloved country.
Religious and political freedom are the source of our happiness.
The Red Chinese have separated us from our root guru.
The Buddhas who dwell in the ten directions
Please witness the suffering of the Tibetan people.
We have to bear cruelty and violence
Which has filled our land with tears and blood.
The Buddhas who dwell in the ten directions
Please protect our mournful words of truth
Tenzin Gyatso, the heart and soul of our country
Is my root Lama, the wish-fulfilling jewel.
When all Tibetans, in Tibet and in exile, unite
The sun will emerge from behind the clouds.

[Translation: Tibet Information Network]

སྐྱོ་བའི་གཞས། (Songs of Sadness)

སྐྱོ་བའི་གཞས་གཅིག་བཏང་ཡོད། གྲྭ་བཞི་ནང་ནས་བཏང་ཡོད།
དགའ་སྐྱིད་གངས་རི་འདྲ་བའི། གཞས་ཅིག་འདམས་ནས་བཏང་ཡོད།
སྔ་མོའི་ཆོས་ལྡན་ཞིང་ཁམས་འདི། ད་ཆ་དམར་པོའི་བཙོན་ལ་འགྱུར།
བོད་མི་བཙོན་ལ་བཅུག་ཀྱང་། སྙིང་སྟོབས་ནམ་ཡང་མ་ཞུམ།
ཨ་ཙི། དེ་རིང་སྐྱོ་བ་ལ། ཀླ་ཀློས་ཉེས་རྡུང་ཆག་རྡུང་བཏང་།
ང་ཚོ་རང་དབང་མེད་པའི། ཀླ་ཀློའི་འོག་ཏུ་བཟོད་སྒོམ།
ང་ཚོས་བཙན་རྒྱལ་ངོ་རྒོལ་གྱིས། གྲྭ་བཞི་བཙོན་ནས་ཡར་ལངས་བྱུང་།
ཐམས་ཅད་མཁྱེན་པའི་བཀའ་དྲིན་གྱིས། ཞི་བདེ་བདེ་ལ་འཁོད་སོང་།

“Song of Sadness”

We’ve sung a song of sadness
We’ve sung it from Drapchi prison
Like the happy and joyful snow mountains
We’ve sung this song for the sake of freedom
Previously, a spiritual realm of dharma
Now, is changed to a barbaric prison ground.
Even at the cost of our lives, we Tibetans,
Will never lose our courage.
O, what a sad fate we Tibetans have!
To be tortured mercilessly by barbarians
We don’t have freedom
Under the yoke of these barbarians

[Translation: Free Tibet]


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DOWNLOAD the Song: [གངས་ལྗོངས། Land of Snow]
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