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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Gyarong Tenzin on 3/31/2017

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Published on Apr 20, 2018

The interpreter's English translation provided during this interview is potentially incomplete and/or inaccurate. If you are not fluent in Tibetan, please refer to the interview transcript for the complete and correct English translation. Read the interview transcript in English at http://tibetoralhistory.org/Interview...

** This interview about life in Tibet was conducted by the Tibet Oral History Project. This non-profit organization aims to preserve the history and culture of the Tibetan people by interviewing elderly Tibetan refugees about life in Tibet before and after the Chinese invasion. Learn more at http://www.TibetOralHistory.org.

** Interview Summary: Gyarong Tenzin was born in 1933 to a family that engaged in farming in Amdo Province. The people there were self-sufficient with everything coming from their farm and the animals of local nomads. Gyarong Tenzin recounts that farmers in his region grew poppy plants that were bartered with Chinese traders for wheat flour, oil, meat, guns, silver and gold. He became a monk at the age of 5 and lived at the village monastery nearby until age 17.After the Chinese occupation Gyarong Tenzin’s father was imprisoned for killing a Chinese leader. Fearing his own capture, Gyarong Tenzin escaped and travelled around China in disguise selling goods. He then traveled to Lhasa and earned a lot of money transporting rocks for the Chinese in order to buy guns to fight against them. He went and volunteered with the Chushi Gangdrug [Defend Tibet Volunteer Force] at the age of 26, vowing to sacrifice his life to protect His Holiness the Dalai Lama.Gyarong Tenzin talks about the guerrillas’ numerous encounters with the Chinese and the many casualties suffered on both sides. He helped to care for Andrug Gonpo Tashi, leader of the Chushi Gangdug, when he was injured and then served among those who escorted His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his escape journey to India. Gyarong Tenzin learned about his father’s release in 1980 and decided to visit his hometown, where he observed the poor living conditions despite the insistence of the Chinese that they had brought about development.

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