Interview Age: 82
Date of Birth: 1933
Birthplace: Meshay - Derge, Kham, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1980
Profession: Herding, Farming
Political Prisoner: Yes
Interview No.: 25N
Location: Kathmandu, Bagmati, Nepal
Categories: Oppression and Imprisonment, Resistance and Revolution
Keywords: CIA training, escape experiences, Chinese -- first appearance of, forced labor, imprisonment, Kham, resistance fighters, thamzing/struggle sessions, landowners
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.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tenzin Yangchen (Interpreter)
- Henry Tenenbaum (Videographer)