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For fear of Chinese soldiers, they only dared walk through the freezing nights, with no light to guide them but the stars. The mountains were black towers before the dark sky. The group, numbering a dozen or so, had set out shortly before the Tibetan New Year festival, which, like the beginning of the Chinese calendar, usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. New Year was deemed the best time to escape.
Yangzom Brauen is an actress and political activist. Born in 1980 to a Swiss father and Tibetan mother, she lives in both Los Angeles and Berlin and has appeared in a number of German and American films. She is also very active in the Free Tibet movement, making regular radio broadcasts about Tibet and organising public demonstrations against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Across Many Mountains will be published by Harvill Secker on 3 March 2011.
You can also read our exclusive Q&A with Yongzom.