Dharamsala, 21 July - The wife and cousin of detained Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, whose film “leaving fear behind” documented the Tibetan people’s opposition to the Chinese government and loyalty towards the Dalai Lama, have expressed serious concerns about his health. Lhamo Tso, Dhondup’s wife now living here, and Gyaljong Tsetrin, his cousin based in Switzerland, have appealed to the international community for help.
Recent information acquired form Tibet indicate that Dhondup suffers from Hepatitis B and receives no medical treatment in detention. Dhondup's family appointed lawyer in Beijing, under government pressure, has been forced to drop the case
"Before hearing this latest news, I hadn't had any news about Dhondup for over a year", said Lhamo Tso. "I have always known him to be a healthy and active person, I cannot imagine what terrible torture he has gone through in Chinese custody. Knowing that he is receiving no treatment for Hepatitis B makes me fear for his life, I dare not tell our four children here about his condition", she added.
Dhondup, 35, has been in detention since March 26, 2008, for filming interviews with ordinary Tibetans on their views on the Olympic Games, the Dalai Lama and Chinese government policies in Tibet. His film was first shown to journalists in Beijing two days before the start of the Olympics in August 2008.
"Dhondup has committed no crime and should not be in prison at all", said his cousin Gyaljong. “Documenting the views of ordinary people is a basic human right and freedom of expression is guaranteed in Chinese law. The Chinese government has shown no regard for rule of law and has even barred an independent lawyer from taking up this case. Therefore I call upon human rights organisations and supporters all over the world to urge their government representatives in Beijing to pressure the Chinese government to unconditionally release Dhondup."
To date, Dhondup’s film has been shown in over 30 countries worldwide and further translated into many foreign languages including French, Spanish, German, Polish, Hungarian, Japanese and Chinese. International organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International have expressed their concerns about Dhondup’s health and condition in prison.
Dhondup was born on 17th October 1974 in Bayen in the Tsoshar region of Amdo, the northeastern province of Tibet (in Chinese: Hualong, Haidong, Qinghai). Born into a farming family, he received no formal education. In 1993 Dhondup and his cousin Gyaljong fled Tibet to meet the Dalai Lama. Dhondup returned to Tibet and his cousin sought political refuge in Switzerland. Dhondup managed to smuggle out the videotapes to his cousin in Switzerland days before last year’s unrest in Tibet.