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Tibetan filmmaker released after six years in Chinese prison


Dharamsala, June 6 :

Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who was jailed for making a film expressing feelings of Tibetans ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has been released from a prison in China, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) said Friday.

Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen
Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen

Wangchen, who made the documentary ‘Leaving Fear Behind’, was released Thursday, the CTA said, quoting a source from the region.

“Chinese authorities contacted his family a few days back and informed them that he would be released June 6 from Sangchu county. However, he was suddenly released yesterday (Thursday) without any prior information,” it said.

Wangchen, along with Tibetan monk Golog Jigme, was arrested in March 2008 for making the documentary in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The documentary consists of a series of interviews with ordinary Tibetans discussing Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and mass migration of Han Chinese into traditional Tibetan areas.

Since his imprisonment, numerous international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, which named him a prisoner of conscience and appealed to the Chinese government to release him.

In 2012, he was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Wangchen’s release from prison comes a few weeks after his fellow Golog Jigme went to exile in India following his escape from a Chinese prison.

Narrating his 20-month arduous journey since his escaped from a Chinese prison, Jigme, who last month reached Dharamsala, the home to the Dalai Lama, said he hid across mountains, rivers and forests.

Narrating his experience in the Chinese prison, where he was brutally tortured, Jigme said: “Even today I continue to have severe pain on the backbone and ribs and my knee dislocates whenever my body gets cold.”

The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, has been following a “middle-path” policy that seeks “greater autonomy” for Tibetans in China rather than complete independence.

The Tibetan exile administration is based in Dharamsala.