"Fire Nation sent soldiers. We fought them and defeated them. Then they sent their machines, huge machines made of metal. There was nothing we could do. Those who could not bend were allowed to live in peace, if we were imprisoned."
— Earthbending father explaining to Aang how bending was suppressed in his village
His village was attacked by the Fire Nation before the beginning of the film. He and the other earthbenders managed to defeat the invaders at first, but they were powerless when the Fire Nation came back with their war machines. As a term of surrender, the non-benders of the village were allowed to live in peace, if the earthbenders were imprisoned and earthbending forbidden. Their earthbending-related tools were also confiscated. His son was later captured with Team Avatar, but they were reunited in the prison camp.
Upon inquiry, he explained the situation to Aang. When his son threw a pebble at the lead soldier, he earth-blocked a retaliatory fire attack, even though it was not acceptable for any prisoner to do so. He held his son close, waiting to be finished off by a combined attack from two firebenders when they were protected by a large earth-barrier, raised by six earthbenders bending in unison.