Interviewee Profile

Name: Rabten
(Alias: No)

Gender: Male

Interview Age: 82

Date of Birth: 1933

Birthplace: Meshay - Derge, Kham, Tibet

Year Left Tibet: 1980

Profession: Farming, Herding

Monk/Nun: No

Political Prisoner: Yes

Interview Details

Interview No.: 25N

Date: 2015-04-08

Language: Tibetan

Location: Kathmandu, Bagmati, Nepal

Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment, Resistance and Revolution

Keywords: Chinese -- first appearance of, CIA training, escape experiences, forced labor, imprisonment, Kham, landowners, resistance fighters, thamzing/struggle sessions


Rabten was born in a small village called Meshay consisting of 12-13 families. He describes his village as an incredibly beautiful place where all the people had plenty to eat. Rabten's family earned their living by both farming and nomadic activities. He also explains that for generations his family served the King of Derge.

Rabten recalls the appearance of the Chinese who began democratic reforms that categorized people into different classes. Rabten's family was classified among the landowners, who at that time were being assaulted, imprisoned or killed. His parents were too old to be arrested but they died eventually from starvation. Rabten joined the King of Derge in his revolt and escape. They encountered resistance fighters trained in the United States and air-dropped into the region.

Despite the large group of fighters and weapons provided by the U.S., the guerillas could only resist the Chinese for three days before the majority were killed or captured and the rest of fled into the forest. After several months Rabten also had to surrender to the Chinese. He gives an account of his imprisonment, the conditions in prison and forced labor. He was subjected to thaptsoe 'physical struggle [thamzing 'Chinese struggle session']' and was under complete surveillance with no rights even after being released from prison. Rabten was able escape to Nepal with the help of a smuggler.

Interview Team:

  • Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
  • Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
  • Henry Tenenbaum (Videographer)
Interview Video

Link: Watch On Youtube

Topic: Interview with Rabten on 4/8/2015

Length: 01:33:42

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