Voices of Deoli

Voices of Deoli Internment Camp Survivors

Short Summary

Everyone has heard of the Japanese internment camps in America, but do you know about the Chinese internment camps in India? We are here to tell that story, our story.

We are a group of Chinese Indians, ethnic Chinese who were born in India. We started this campaign because no one knows our story, and we want everyone to know who we are and what happened to us.

The 1962 Border War between India and China changed our lives forever. Many of us living near the Indian border were taken from our homes without warning and put into an internment camp 1,000 miles away in the Rajasthan desert. The war lasted one month but the camp remained opened for over five years.

When we were released, we were not allowed to return home, and so lost everything. We had to start life over in another city, and often, another country. After the border war, life as an ethnic Chinese in India became a hardship. Those who were able, emigrated to other countries. Those who could not, remained and endured suffering for decades afterwards.

We have kept silent for 50 years because of a multitude of emotions: fear, humiliation, sadness, and not wanting to re-live the loss of dignity and loss of identity. We are talking now because new generations have never heard our story and we are the last generation of survivors. We realize the healing process may be a long one, but we have started the journey and hope for peace and eventual closure.

About a year and a half ago, we found a friend in a well-known photo-journalist, Rafeeq Ellias, based in Mumbai, who has become just as passionate as we are about getting our stories out. He started filming and documenting several ex-internees and used his own time and funds to do this. We want to help him complete the project and have his documentary viewed as widely as possible.
This is why we started this funding campaign.

Our Plan in the Coming Months

A group of us, ex-internees, are planning to make a historic trip back to India this October 2015. It’s historic because it is the first time we are returning together to our country of birth to tell our stories. We have already been invited to a number of different venues in Delhi and Kolkata. Our trip will be recorded as part of the documentary project.

This is where you come in. We hope you will join our journey and help us tell our stories by making this documentary possible.

  • The goal for this campaign is to raise money for completion of the documentary film “Beyond Barbed Wires”.
  • Funds raised will also be used for a follow-on film that documents our stories while we are in India.
  • The campaign will be used to fund Chinese Indians living in remote regions of India to travel to Delhi to be with us at our talks. Many of these people have never fully recovered from their losses after the 1962 war. Travel anywhere outside their hometown is a hardship for them.
  • We estimate the cost of production and helping those with limited resources to get to the capital is any where from $25,000 to $50,000.
  • Unfortunately, your donations are not tax deductible.

The Impact

Telling a story is a powerful thing. We believe that in hearing our story, people will be motivated to share it with others and support our journey. It is as important for us to tell our stories as it is for others to hear us. As a contributor, by helping us tell these stories, you will be part of the campaign to enlighten the world about this largely unknown history.

Stories like ours, no matter how small, need to be exposed so that governments might take a more measured approach and consider the wider impacts of their policies which may harm innocent people for generations.

Our Goals

Increased Media Coverage

The story of the internment in Deoli is a difficult one for us to tell, and historically has not received much coverage in the media. Recently the tides are turning, and a few voices are beginning to take notice. We are hoping that this growing consciousness and media support will help raise public awareness of the Chinese internment, and the suffering it brought to all those affected by it.


Our hope is that the Indian government will acknowledge its misguided policies of the 1960’s. We also hope that it will offer an official apology to those Chinese Indians who have suffered, despite the passage of 50 years since the end of the war.

Peace & Security 
We certainly do not wish to bring more harm to the remaining ethnic Chinese living in India today, nor do we wish to embarrass the government of India. Therefore, we are taking a non-confrontational, “Gandhian” approach that will hopefully be accepted and appreciated by all parties concerned. We are aware that this may be just the beginning and indeed the government may continue to officially deny the occurrence of these events, but in any case, the Deoliwallahs will continue to make pubic awareness whenever and wherever we can.

Other Ways You Can Help

We understand that not everyone can contribute, but there are many ways you can spread the word:
  1. Share this link with your friends and family. Ask them to share the link.
  2. Perhaps you know of someone who has a similar experience–encourage them to tell their story.
  3. Tell a friend who is in the media.
  4. Follow us on social media:

Thank you for helping us bring these stories to light!

direct link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/voices-of-deoli#/story