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Chinese diplomat in UK agrees to "follow up" on issue of jailed Tibetan film-maker

October 3, 2010

By Tenzin Tsering
September 30, 2010

Dharamsala, Sep, 30 -- The Chinese ambassador to
the U.K. agreed to follow up on the case of a
jailed Tibetan filmmaker after Tibet activists
appealed to the diplomat at a fringe meeting that
was held earlier this week at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester.

London based Tibet support group Tibet Society’s
Campaign Co-ordinator Paul Golding and Tibetan
activist Tsering Passang directly challenged
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming to look into the case of
Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who was
arrested in 2008 and sentenced to six years imprisonment.

At the event hosted by the Chinese diplomat to
discuss "Why China and Britain need a stronger
partnership?” the two activists also called on
Liu to urge the Chinese government to release the
imprisoned Tibetan filmmaker as a gesture of goodwill.

While the meeting -- which was attended by former
UK Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott and Mark
Hendrick MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary
Group on China -- saw very little mention of
Tibet, activist Tsering Passang seized the
question and answer session to raise the issue of
China’s human rights record in occupied Tibet,
citing the case of Dhondup Wangchen as an example.

Dhondup Wangchen was arrested in 2008 and
sentenced to six years of imprisonment in 2009
for his documentary film titled “Leaving Far
Behind,” which was critical of Chinese government
policies in Tibet. Dhondup and his monk assistant
Jigme Gyatso had travelled to remote corners in
the eastern region of Amdo and across the Tibetan
plateau from October 2007 to March 2008 filming
over thirty five hours of interviews. The tapes
were sent out in March 2008 to Switzerland, where
Dhondup’s cousin Gyaljong Tsetrin put the final
cut together and distributed it.

The film "Leaving fear behind" features twenty
ethnic Tibetans giving their views on the Beijing
Olympics that was to be held later that year, the
current reality in Tibet and their calls for the
return of the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama.

Speaking before the assembled MPs, party
officials and party members, Tsering Passang
asked Ambassador Liu to look specifically into
the case of Dhondup Wangchen, and requested that
the Chinese government release the imprisoned
filmmaker since Dhondup had done nothing more
than film Tibetans giving their opinions about life in Tibet.

"The ambassador was visibly surprised he had been
asked such a question and responded by saying
that he did not personally know of the case,”
Tibet Society wrote in a statement to the press.
Liu, however, added that, "If [Dhondup] had been
arrested then he must have done something wrong."

"This reply exemplifies China's complete
disregard of the principle of ‘innocent until
proven guilty’, and clearly illustrates the bias
and difficulties encountered by Tibetans and
human rights defenders in receiving a fair trial
under the Communist regime," the Tibet support group added in their release.

However, when directly approached by the two
activists Liu said one of his staff would handle
their request that he follow up on Dhondup
Wangchen’s case if Tibet Society sent him more details on the matter.

"Tibet Society will now follow up by writing to
the Embassy and the Ambassador. We will also
encourage Lord Prescott and Mark Hendrick to do
likewise,” the support group wrote in a statement.

Tibet Society will also invite Lord Prescott and
Mark Hendrick to meet Dhondup Wangchen’s wife
Lhamo Tso during her visit to the U.K. in
October. Lhamo Tso, who currently resides in
exile in Dharamsala, in her maiden tour to the
U.K. will be speaking about her imprisoned
husband in her address to MPs at an All Party
Parliamentary Group for Tibet meeting at Westminster.
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