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Ani Pachen

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Ani Pachen (Tibetan: ཨ་ནེ་དཔའ་ཆེན།Wylie: A-ne Dpa'-chen) (1933-2002) was a Tibetan Buddhist nun who led her clan in armed rebellion against Chinese invaders.

Early life

Pachen Dolma was born around 1933 in Gonjo, Kham, Eastern Tibet. She was the only child of Chieftain Pomda Gonor of the Lemdha clan. At 17, she fled to a monastery after overhearing plans to marry her off. The monastery was three days away on horseback.

The Tibetan Joan of Arc

Now known as Ani Pachen (translated "(Nun) Great Courage"), she lived in the monastery for the next 18 years. She inherited the leadership of the Lemdha clan, returning to the outside world when her father died in 1958, .

She led her clan in rebellion against the Communist Chinese. These invaders had begun desecrating monasteries and murdering Tibetan families, redistributing their properties. She bravely led a guerrilla campaign of 600 fighters on horseback against Chinese tanks until her capture in late 1959.


For 21 years, Ani Pachen was a political prisoner, punished for her faith and refusal to denounce the Dalai Lama. She was beaten, and hung by her wrists for a week. She also spent a year in leg irons, and nine months in solitary confinement, with no light. The last 11 years were spent in Drapchi Prison in Lhasa, Tibet. During her time in prison, the Cultural Revolution was in full force. Ani Pachen saw her friends and compatriots executed or die of hunger. The three great monasteries of Tibet (Drepung, Sera and Ganden) were ransacked and burned.


After her release from prison in January 1981, Ani Pachen went on resisting the Chinese. She remained in Lhasa and took part in the three major demonstrations led by the monks of Drepung, Sera and Ganden Monasteries in 1987 and 1988 demanding human rights for Tibetans and for the Chinese to leave Tibet.

She fled for the border when she learned she was to be arrested again, and wandered for four days in deep snow before chancing upon a friendly villager. She then walked for 25 days to Nepal. Her dream to meet the Dalai Lama came true when she was granted a personal audience soon her arrival. She settled in Dharamsala in India.


Ani Pachen's autobiography, Sorrow Mountain: the journey of a Tibetan warrior nun[1], was published in 2000, and she toured the US and Europe. In 2001, she visited the United Kingdom at the invitation of the Tibet Society, and led the annual march through central London to commemorate the Lhasa Uprising.


  1. written with Adelaide Donnelly

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