Lhamo Tso, wife of Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, campaigns for her husband’s release in UK and Europe
Report submitted by Tsering Passang
LONDON, November 24: Lhamo Tso, a mother of four, lives in Dharamsala while her husband Dhondup Wangchen continues to serve a six-year jail term in a Chinese prison in Xining, north eastern Tibet. They have not had the chance to speak or meet face to face for four years now.
Their young children are studying in Tibetan refugee schools in northern India and they all badly miss their father. While looking after Dhondup’s parents in Dharamshala, Lhamo Tso supports her family by baking and selling Tibetan bread.
Last month, Lhamo Tso travelled to Switzerland where she attended the third anniversary of the Tibetan Film Festival. The festival organisers had dedicated their annual event to Dhondup Wangchen and his work with the intention of encouraging the emergence of more Tibetan filmmakers in the years ahead.
Following the event, Lhamo Tso was invited to speak to the delegates of the Regional Meeting of European Tibet Support Groups in Nice, France, convened by International Tibet Network, earlier this month.
Lhamo Tso then flew into London on November 6 where she was greeted by Frederick Hyde-Chambers and Philippa Carrick of the Tibet Society.
Lhamo Tso was provided the opportunity to meet with government and British Foreign Office officials in London. She also had meetings with a number of Members of Parliament at Westminster as well as Members of Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.
During her interactions, Lhamo Tso called for their urgent support for the release of her husband and his medical treatment.
Dhondup was arrested on March 26, 2008 in eastern Tibet and was subsequently tortured and imprisoned for making the Tibetan documentary film, “Leaving Fear Behind”. In his film, Dhondup travels across the Tibetan plateau seeking ordinary Tibetans’ views on the then 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese policies in Tibet and the Tibetan people’s devotion in His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
On December 28, 2009, the Chinese authorities charged the Tibetan filmmaker with ‘inciting separatism’ and ‘subversion of state power.’ Due to the poor conditions in the prison, Dhondup contracted Hepatitis B while in prison.
During her 16-day UK speaking-tour, Lhamo Tso spoke to over five hundred school children and teachers, Tibet supporters, human rights activists, independent filmmakers, businessmen and lawyers working for the Ministry of Justice. She also met with Tibetans living in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bristol and London.
In her interactions, Lhamo Tso pointed out that Tibetans in Tibet are deprived of the basic freedoms of expression and thought. She said that her husband was innocent and did not commit any crime to deserve the six-year imprisonment. Concerned with the health her husband, Lhamo Tso said that the family’s main wish was to secure proper medical treatment for Dhondup and his early release from prison.
The local Tibetans assured Lhamo Tso that they would write to the Chinese Ambassador in the UK as well as the British Foreign Secretary while pledging to support the campaign for Dhondup Wangchen’s release on medical parole.
While thanking all those individuals and groups who hosted her during the speaking tour in England and Scotland, Lhamo Tso said, “On behalf of my whole family, I thank Tibet Society and their members for enabling this immensely important tour. Dhondup would be very inspired if he learned about the level of support for him in UK."
Tsering Passang is the sponsorship coordinator for the UK based Tibet Relief Fund.