Jigme Gyatso is seen taking part in relief work after the earthquake in Keygudo, eastern Tibet in 2010.
DHARAMSHALA, February 19: A Tibetan group in exile has asserted that the charges of manslaughter framed against Tibetan monk Jigme Gyatso by Chinese authorities are “baseless” and announced the launch of a campaign for his safety.
The Swiss based Filming for Tibet in a release yesterday said that conclusive information collected by the group indicate that the charges framed against Jigme Gyatso also known as Golog Jigme are baseless.
Lhamo Tso, wife of jailed Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen and an old friend of Jigme Gyatso has launched a campaign appealing the United States and other countries to urge China to stop the ongoing manhunt, the group said.
Jigme Gyatso was earlier believed to have been detained by Chinese authorities in eastern Tibet after he went missing under mysterious circumstances in September 2012. He had assisted Dhondup Wangchen in secretly shooting the documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind” in 2008.
However, in November last, Chinese officials in Kanlho made an announcement charging Jigme Gyatso of manslaughter and offering 2,00,000 Chinese Yuan (US$ 32,116) for information of his whereabouts.
Filming for Tibet in its release cited several Tibetans in Tibet and westerners in China with close contacts with Jigme Gyatso as saying that the charges against him are “baseless and motivated by other unknown reasons.”
“Repeatedly, the opinion was voiced that Jigme Gyatso’s political and social activism might be the real reason for the arrest and the harsh statements following his disappearance,” the group said.
Lhamo Tso, who has known Jigme Gyatso for more then 16 years, last month wrote to the US Secretary of State appealing for action to ensure his safety.
“I am convinced that if foreign governments inquire about his case, some level of protection will be provided to him. Therefore, I request the US government to approach the Chinese government and ask them about the case of Jigme Gyatso,” Tso wrote in the letter.
The Tibetan monk was first arrested in March 2008 from Labrang Tashi Khyil and was detained for seven months during which he was brutally tortured and beaten. He was rearrested in March 2009, during which he was kept in custody for about 40 days. Since then, he has been rearrested many times.
Jigme Gyatso had assisted Dhondup Wangchen in secretly shooting his documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind” that shed light on the lives of Tibetans in China in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
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.