Golok Jigme Gyatso in an undated photo. (Phayul file photo)
DHARAMSHALA, October 4: The New York based media rights watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed concern over a missing Tibetan filmmaker after fears that he has been rearrested.
Tibetan monk Golok Jigme Gyatso was first arrested in March 2008 for assisting Dhondup Wangchen in secretly shooting his documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind” that was intended to shed light on the lives of Tibetans in China in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Gyatso was later released in October 2008 but was arrested again in March 2009 during which he was kept in custody for about 40 days.
"We are concerned about the whereabouts of Jigme Gyatso, who has been harassed and detained in the past for making a film," said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator in a release Wednesday. "All too often, Tibetan journalists are detained without due process, and Gyatso's disappearance is a reminder that even if they are freed, the fear of re-arrest is constant."
The film featuring a series of interviews with Tibetans talking about how China had destroyed the Tibetan culture, violated religious freedom and their undying reverence for the exiled leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was smuggled out of Tibet and later released worldwide.
Fears over Gyatso’s arrest were communicated by his Zurich-based close friend Gyaljong Tsetrin, who said that he was last heard of on September 20.
According to Tsetrin, President of Swiss-based Tibetan film company “Filming for Tibet,” Gyatso’s last known whereabouts were in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, on September 20 when he was on his way to Tsoe (Ch: Hezuo) in Amdo, Tibet.
“I’m certain that Jigme Gyatso has been detained by Chinese security and I fear he is being ill-treated, as he has been in the past,” Tsetrin said.
The group in a release
today noted that Tibetan net uses in Tibet have at great personal risk been posting on social media sites and alerting each other about Jigme Gyatso’s disappearance.
“A post on the Sina Weibo microblogging site from September 30, 2012 says that ‘Jigme Gyatso has been missing for the last 10 days.’
“Another post also from September 30 on Tibetan blog-hosting site Sangdhor.com titled “Looking for Jigdrel’s Jigme” says in Tibetan, “It has been over 10 days since we are not knowing the whereabouts of Jigme, maker of the film “Leaving Fear Behind”, also known as Golog Jigme. This is causing family and friends to worry. Looking for information about him, please contact us immediately, thank you.” This post was deleted from Sangdhor.com very quickly,” the group added.
Dhondup Wangchen, who is serving a six-year prison sentence for making the film, was last month named as one of the winners
of CPJ’s 2012 International Press Freedom Awards, an annual recognition of courageous reporting.
Jigme Gyatso was born in 1969 in Golog Serta, in the Kardze region of Kham.