January 11, 2010

Tibet: China Jails Filmmaker for Six Years

Sample ImageChina sentences Tibetan filmmaker, Dhondup Wangchen to a six-year jail term for filming interviews with Tibetans on their life under Chinese rule

Below is an article published by the Tibetan Review:

China on Dec 28 [2009] sentenced self-taught video-maker Dhondup Wangchen to a six-year jail term for filming interviews with Tibetans on their life under Chinese rule. The court in Xining, capital of Qinghai Province, had last year refused to allow him to be represented by Li Dunyong, a Beijing-based human rights lawyer, chosen by his family.

Dhondup was arrested with his monk-assistant, Jigme Gyatso, on Mar 26 [2008] just after having sent out the footage of his shooting. Jigme was released on bail seven months later, after being subjected to severe torture.

A documentary titled ‘Leaving Fear Behind’ produced from the footage has been shown in 30 countries, including secretly to journalists at the Beijing Olympics in Aug 2009 and on the sideline of the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva. The documentary on the film, shot from Oct’07 to Mar’08, has also been translated into five languages, including Chinese.

Dhondup’s Dharamsala-based wife, Lhamo Tso, and Swiss-based cousin have expressed serious concern over the unfairness of the trial and the fact that he was not getting any medical attention despite being ill with Hepatitis-B.

Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has launched an online campaign for Dhondup release. (see http://www.rsf.org/Free-Dhondup-Wangchen.html)

Many human rights organizations, Tibet support groups and others had criticized the 35-year-old video maker’s arrest and trial and called for his immediate release. But China entirely ignored all protests and criticism and convicted him for “splitting the motherland”.

Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) Jan 6 [2010] reported that the trial was held in secret, with even his relatives having not been informed about his trial and sentence.

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