Name: Chheeme Gonpo Luthoktsang
Interview Age: 71
Date of Birth: 1945
Birthplace: Kutse - Derge, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1961
Profession: Farming, Herding
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 9N
Location: Kathmandu, Bagmati, Nepal
Categories: Resistance and Revolution
Keywords: Buddhist beliefs, childhood memories, Chinese army -- invasion by , Chushi Gangdrug guerrillas, CIA training, customs/traditions, escape experiences, government/administration, Kham, myths/stories, nomadic life, resistance, trade
Chheeme Gonpo Luthoktsang was born in 1945 in Kutse, Derge. The ruling class of Derge consisted of a king, 30 dhunkor 'ministers' and 80 honda 'deputy ministers.' His family engaged in farming and besides serving as a honda, his father was a merchant trading medicinal herbs in China and India. Chheeme Gonpo lived in a large house during the winter and spent time in the nomadic camp during the summers. He describes the family's religious practices and recalls listening to songs about a legendary Tibetan warrior king at bedtime.
In 1957 the Chinese came to Derge and life changed drastically as Tibetans abandoned their homes and fled to the mountains. Chheeme Gonpo provides a vivid narration about the months they spent in hiding--how they hunted for their food and resisted the Chinese army for more than a year. His group faced many encounters with the Chinese and many people, including his sister were killed. Chheeme Gonpo tells of courageous men sacrificing their lives to secure the groups escape and the difficulties of crossing many big rivers.
Chheeme Gonpo arrived with many others at a Chushi Gangdrug volunteer army camp. He witnessed the airdrop of 17 Tibetans trained by the CIA in guerrilla warfare. When the camp was bombed, all the resistance fighters scattered, some heading into the isolated Northern Plains. Chheeme Gonpo's group of 110 finally reached Nepal after more than a year of travelling on foot.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Dhiraj Kafle (Videographer)