A single image can certainly evoke strong memories. This 1959 TIME cover photo and the accompanying story of my escape from Tibet brings movingly back to me the tragedy of my land and of my people.
I will soon be 88. This cover appeared when I was 24. At that time, in spite of our earnest efforts to coexist, the Chinese authorities did not, unfortunately, respond positively. The very survival of the Tibetan identity was at risk. So, it was decided that, in the interests of our land and our people, I should leave Lhasa. Initially I had some fear and hesitation about doing this. But since the Tibetan people had placed their hope and trust in me, I knew where my responsibility lay. In the same way, when I was hardly 16, and even though I was ill-prepared, I had to take up the political leadership of Tibet. Sometimes I say that at 16, I lost my personal freedom, and at 24 my country’s freedom was lost. Subsequently, I became a refugee.