The blogpost is about Tibetan filmmakers Dhondup Wangchen and Golog Jigme, both of whom Woeser has written about before. Dhondup Wangchen is currently serving the final year of his six year prison sentence for making the documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind” and his assistant Golog Jigme has been missing since September 2012.
Today, international human rights day, also marks a global day of action under the slogan “Unchain the Truth” for Dhondup Wangchen’s safe release from prison in 2014.
“Paying Respect to Dhondup Wangchen and Golog Jigme”
When I heard that Dhondup Wangchen will be released from prison where he has been held captive for six entire years, I could not help but mutter to myself: “Kunchok Kyen!”
Many past events are still surrounding us today. Even though I have never actually met Dhondup Wangchen, I have seen the documentary “Leaving Fear Behind”, shot by him and Golog Jigme, the first documentary from within Tibet that looks at the truth and the facts, a very important and meaningful film. I have also written many articles about him, one particular one when I learned that he was sentenced to six years in prison for “subversion and instigating separatism”. He was secretly sentenced two years after he had secretly been arrested. For a 25 minute long documentary he had to endure the torture and torment of six years in prison, so one minute of the film equalled three months in prison, this is really too cruel!
At the time, a foreign journalist asked me what I thought about Dhondup Wangchen’s prison sentence. I said that this person, Dhondup Wangchen, someone with no education in film-making, had taken a simple video camera and recorded the real feelings and so many voices of ordinary Tibetans, reflecting their suffering, oppression, and discrimination as well as their living conditions and their real desires, hereby telling the world what Tibetans really think and feel. If he were sentenced to this harsh prison sentence on the basis of this documentary, it just shows that this political regime is too inhumane, but also that it is too weak. At the same time, Dhondup Wangchen’s prison sentence proves that the documentary revealed the truth and that it made the outside world better understand the devastating fate of Tibetan people.
These six years that felt longer than a dark night are now soon coming to an end; that Dhondup Wangchen with his extraordinary willpower is still alive can be seen as a great victory. Just as Dechen Pemba wrote in her article “The Story of Dhondup Wangchen, Filmmaker Jailed in China”, Dhondup Wangchen is not only a Tibetan hero, a citizen journalist and human rights activist, he is also the son of two parents, the husband of a frail wife and a father of children. So we can imagine how much his family longed for a reunion during this long and dark night in prison. I truly hope that his family can reunite soon and I would like to express my heartfelt admiration for Lhamo Tso who during her husband’s imprisonment took care of the entire family, of the old and the young, and who for her husband’s freedom called for help and support everywhere in the world; she is an amazing woman.
However, what makes people sad is that when Dhondup Wangchen is released from prison he will probably not be able to meet the person with whom he rode a motorbike through the eastern parts of Tibet to record the voices of Tibetan people, Golog Jigme. This 44-year-old monk from Labrang Monastery, Jigme Gyatso, was also arrested after Dhondup Wangchen had been detained, suffered cruel torture, and fell sick. One day in September 2012 he suddenly disappeared; after that the Public Security Office of Gansu Province ordered the arrest of Golog Jigme as a criminal, stating that he was “suspected of committing voluntary manslaughter”, promising great monetary rewards to anyone who can give any clues with regards to his whereabouts, but until the present day, there is no news about him.
“Voluntary manslaughter” is quite a serious accusation. As a result of 128 people self-immolating in protest against the CCP since 2009 in all areas of Tibet over (123 inside Tibet and 5 outside), the local authorities are reacting with ever increasing suppression, approaching Tibetans with false charges and defamations. Hence, hundreds of Tibetans have already been punished and sentenced, many of them accused of “instigating, coercing, abetting or forcing people to self-immolate”; many were convicted of “voluntary manslaughter”. So is it perhaps that Golog Jigme being “accused of voluntary manslaughter” is also an attempt to accuse him of “instigating, coercing, abetting or forcing people to self-immolate”?
Only through the belief and courage of Tibetans can history be recorded. Just like the many Tibetans who agreed and were willing to show their real faces and speak words of truth into the camera of Golog Jigme and Dhondup Wangchen. They said to Dhondup Wangchen that if he can show this film to His Holiness, then even if they had to pay for it with their lives they would never regret it. The words of deep emotions that Dhondup Wangchen dedicated to the Dalai Lama at the end of the documentary are already echoing in over 30 countries across the world and are being spread to a large audience. Let us pay our greatest respect to Dhondup Wangchen who is about to be released from prison and to Golog Jigme whose whereabouts are unknown.
December 1, 2013