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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Chonphel on 6/27/2007

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Published on Feb 9, 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: Born in Gyangtse to a family of telpa 'tax payers,' Chonphel's father was a genpo 'village leader.' His family was shung-wok, meaning they were tenants on government-owned land. Chonphel explains the various categories of tenants in Tibet depending on who owned the land: the monasteries, the government or private property owners. He also describes the ma-tel 'butter tax,' sha-tel 'meat tax' and wool tax, and how the taxes were paid to the correct authorities. Chonphel was the first person from his village to be arrested by the Chinese under false accusations. Relating his miserable prison days, he describes the difficult labor of plowing fields and constructing buildings, while given very little food. Prisoners resorted to eating rats from the fields and leather. He suffered in this way for seven years. After releasing Chonphel from prison, the Chinese sent him back to his village, where he was subjected to thamzing 'struggle sessions' because he had been a genpo. He worked as a laborer and married again because his first wife remarried while he was in prison. A year later he and his second wife fled to India.

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