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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China: Ensure Fair Trial for Tibetan Filmmaker

August 5, 2009

Dhondup Wangchen Being Denied Due Process
For Immediate Release
Human Rights Watch
August 3, 2009

New York, August 3 -- The Chinese government
should ensure that that the trial of Dhondup
Wangchen, a Tibetan filmmaker arrested in March
2008 on charges of "inciting separatism," is open
and fair, and that he is represented by the
counsel of his choice, Human Rights Watch said today.

In July 2009, the judicial authorities in Xining,
Qinghai province, arbitrarily replaced the lawyer
chosen by Wangchen, Li Dunyong, with a
government-appointed lawyer. No justification for
doing so was provided. Wangchen had only been
allowed to meet with Li once, in July 2009. Li
reported that his client had been tortured in
order to extract a confession and that some of
the injuries he sustained as a result were still
painful a year later. During that discussion
Wangchen stated that he intended to plead not
guilty and had admitted no wrongdoing during his 16 months in detention.

"A verdict against Dhondup Wangchen under the
present circumstances will have no legitimacy
whatsoever," said Sophie Richardson, Asia
advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
"Wangchen must be represented by a lawyer he
chose, in an open trial where the evidence
against him can be challenged and witnesses can
be cross-examined, as required by international fair-trial standards."

Dhondup Wangchen, 35, was arrested on March 26,
2008, in Tongde county, near Xining, the
provincial capital of Qinghai province. Wangchen
had conducted about a hundred interviews with
ordinary Tibetans between October 2007 and March
2008 for a documentary film shot without official
approval in Tibet. The documentary, "Leaving Fear
Behind," was later edited abroad and distributed
to foreign journalists during the 2008 Beijing
Olympic Games. Unauthorized documentaries in
Tibet are rare because of the risks of arrest or
retribution by the authorities against both the
filmmakers and those they interview.

Wangchen, who is also known by the Chinese names
Dunzhu Wangqing [????] and Dangzhi Xiangqian
[????], was initially detained at the Ershilibu
detention center in Xining. In July 2008, he was
then transferred to a government-run guesthouse
in the vicinity, possibly for the purpose of
interrogation, before being sent to the No. 1
Detention Center in Xining. Wangchen has been
suffering from hepatitis B, for which he says he
has been denied adequate medical treatment.

Jigme Gyatso, a monk from Qinghai province who
worked with Wangchen on the documentary, was
arrested at the same time. He was released on
bail seven months later, on October 15, 2008, and
reported that he had been tortured in detention.
Several other people involved with or appearing
in the documentary have also been investigated by the authorities.

In July 2009, the Xining judicial authorities
instructed Wangchen’s lawyer, Li Dunyong, that he
was not allowed to continue to represent him, and
informed the family that the court would
designate a government-appointed lawyer for the
trial. This was in violation of China’s criminal
procedure law and its obligations under
international human rights law, which guarantee
criminal defendants the right to choose their own
defense counsel and to meet with their counsel while in detention.

Particularly after a wave of protests across the
Tibetan plateau in March 2008, trials of Tibetans
have become politicized to such an extent that
independent and impartial adjudications are
extremely rare
(http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/03/09/china-hundreds-tibetan-detainees-and-prisoners-unaccounted).

Human Rights Watch expressed grave concern about
the charge of "inciting separatism." The current
definition of "inciting separatism" under article
103 of the criminal law is incompatible with
international human rights standards, as it
criminalizes protected speech and violates the
right to freedom of expression by conflating
criticism of the government and its policies with
a state security threat. Sentences on separatism
charges range from five years of imprisonment to the death penalty.

Human Rights Watch called on the Chinese
government to ensure that Dhondup Wangchen’s
trial met international fair-trial standards,
including the right against self-incrimination,
the exclusion of evidence obtained under torture
or other mistreatment, and the right to be
represented by a counsel of one’s own choice.
Because Chinese law provides that trials should
be open unless they involve state secrets, Human
Rights Watch called on diplomats and journalists
to ask to attend Dhondup Wangchen’s trial.

"Dhondup Wangchen should either be given a fair
trial or he should be released," said Sophie
Richardson. "Violating due process to ensure a
conviction will only further damage respect for the judiciary in China."

For more information, please contact:
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English,
Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In Hong Kong, Nicholas Bequelin (English, French,
Mandarin): +852-8198-1040 (mobile)
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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