Name: Thupten Chonphel
Interview Age: 72
Date of Birth: 1935
Birthplace: Lhorozong, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 26
Location: Lugsung Samdupling Settlement, Bylakuppe, Karnataka, India
Categories: Resistance and Revolution
Keywords: Bon, childhood memories, Chushi Gangdrug guerrillas, CIA training, escape experiences, forced labor, guerrillas in Mustang, Kham, refugee in India -- life as, Chinese rule -- life under, monastic life, Chinese -- oppression under, resistance fighters
Born in Kham Lhorozong, Thupten Chonphel lived with his parents and six siblings in a remote village. At the age of 10, he joined a Bonpo monastery, but alternated his time between helping his parents at home and studying at the monastery. The Chinese arrived in their village in 1949 and villagers were forced to transport Chinese supplies on any animals they owned.
When the Chinese oppression increased, Thupten, Chonphel along with about 100 people, tried to resist and fight the occupation. When the the Chushi Gangdrug Volunteer Force entered his region, he joined them and fought with weapons they received from the United States. After the fall of Lhasa, over 3,000 guerrillas began to flee along with thousands of other Tibetans.
After 11 months working on road construction in India, Thupten Chonphel went back to Mustang and joined the Chushi Gangdrug again in 1960. They received more weapons from the United States along with the arrival of six Tibetans trained by the CIA, but food was scarce and they suffered greatly. After fighting for nine years, Thupten Chonphel went to Nepal and later to India , where he took his vows at a Gelugpa monastery.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Jeff Lodas (Videographer)