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China Jails Tibetan Filmmaker

January 7, 2010

HONG KONG, Jan. 6, 2010—Authorities in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai have
handed a six-year jail sentence to a Tibetan filmmaker who returned from exile to make a
documentary about his homeland, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

The Xilin People’s Court handed the sentence to Dhondup Wangchen, the producer of the
documentary “Leaving Fear Behind,” in a secret trial that found him guilty of “splitting the
motherland,” Tibetan sources told RFA’s Tibetan service.

“Dhondup Wangchen, the producer of ‘Leaving Fear Behind,’ was sentenced six years to prison,” a Tibetan from the Amdo region identified as Thardrub said.

“We were checking around about it...later, we were able to confirm that he was sentenced secretly by Xilin People’s
Court in Qinghai on Dec. 28, 2009.”

Dhondup Wangchen’s relatives were given no information about his trial or sentencing, he added.

“They were not informed about the sentencing,” Thardrub said. “The relatives argue that he is innocent and he did not commit any crime...They are planning to appeal his sentence in the higher courts.”

Jamyang Tsultrim, a relative of Dhondup Wangchen now living in Switzerland, said the sentencing of Dhondup
Wangchen was a clear indication of how Tibetans were deprived of freedom of expression in China.

“His relatives made arrangements for a lawyer to represent him, but the lawyers were not allowed to represent him,” Jamyang Tsultrim said.

“He was also suffering from liver problems and was denied any kind of medical treatment,” he added.

Short documentary

Jamyang Tsultrim also said Dhondup Wangchen’s relatives weren’t informed about his detention, his health problems, or his sentencing.

The Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ran a petition campaign following Dhondup Wangchen’s detention on March 23, 2008, calling him “a courageous man who took the risk of returning to his country to interview other Tibetans.”

Dhondup Wangchen’s film, “Leaving Fear Behind” (www.leavingfearbehind.com), is a 25-minute documentary
including interviews with Tibetans in the Amdo region expressing their views on Tibet’s exiled leader the Dalai Lama, the Beijing Olympics, and Chinese laws.

The authorities also detained Jigme Gyatso, a monk from the Kham region, at the same time, but released him on Oct. 15. He later said he was tortured in detention.

“Leaving Fear Behind” was produced outside China after Dhondup Wangchen managed to send footage out of Tibet before the authorities caught up with him.

It was shown to foreign journalists in Beijing during the Olympic Games.

Many Tibetans have chafed for years under Chinese rule.

Rioting rocked the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in March 2008 and spread to Tibetan-populated regions of western China, causing official embarrassment ahead of the August 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Chinese officials say 21 people—including three Tibetan protesters—died in the violence.

The India-based Tibetan government-in-exile estimates that 220 Tibetans were killed and 7,000 were detained in a
subsequent region-wide crackdown.

Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written for the Web in English by
Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Radio Free Asia is a private, nonprofit corporation broadcasting and publishing online news, information, and
commentary in nine East Asian languages to listeners who do not have access to full and free news media. RFA’s
broadcasts seek to promote the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to seek, receive,and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. RFA is funded by an annual grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

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