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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China jails Tibetan filmmaker

January 9, 2010

Dhongdup Wangchen sentenced to six years after making documentary
highlighting Tibetan anger with Beijing policies

www.guardian.co.uk, Thursday 7 January 2010

A Chinese court has jailed a Tibetan filmmaker for six years after he made a
documentary critical of Beijing's policies, friends and campaigners said
today.

Dhongdup Wangchen and his friend Golog Jigme, a monk, were detained shortly
after completing Leaving Fear Behind, which highlighted Tibetan anger with
Chinese policies before the Olympics. The tapes had already been smuggled
out of the country.

The films featured interviews with ordinary Tibetans who expressed their
love for the Dalai Lama, their exiled spiritual leader, and said the
Olympics would do little to improve their lives. "The Chinese say they have
made improvements in Tibet. But we don't see any improvement at all,"
Wangchen said in the documentary. "The truth is that Tibetans are not free
to speak of their suffering."

A statement placed on a website promoting the film said the 35-year-old
filmmaker was sentenced on 28 December in Xining, provincial capital of
Qinghai, where there is a large Tibetan population. His family said he was
jailed for subversion. They found out about the sentencing only recently,
Wangpo Tethong, a friend living in exile, told Associated Press.

Calls to the Xining Intermediate People's Court were unanswered.

Li Dunyong, a lawyer hired by the family but replaced with a government
appointee by authorities, told AP the filmmaker had appealed. In a statement
posted on the film's website, Wangchen's wife, Lhama Tso, who is living in
exile in India, said: "I appeal to the court in Xining to allow my husband
to have a legal representative of his own choosing.

"My children and I feel desperate about the prospect of not being able to
see him for so many years. We call on the Chinese authorities to show
humanity by releasing him. My husband is not a criminal, he just tried to
show the truth."

Wangchen was arrested in March 2008, shortly before riots erupted in Lhasa
and spread across other Tibetan areas outside the autonomous region.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said that while she had
not heard of the case, all Chinese citizens enjoyed basic rights, including
freedom of speech. She told a news briefing in Beijing: "You will only be
punished if you break the law."
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