Dhondup Wangchen/Photo courtesy: Filming for Tibet
DHARAMSHALA, JUNE 5: The jailed Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen has been released this morning after serving six years’ imprisonment sentence, said Gyaljong Tsetrin, Dhondup’s cousin who lives in Switzerland.
He was driven by the police to Khotse, (about two hours drive away from Xining) where he reached his sister's home around 15.00hrs local time.
A very emotional Dhondup Wangchen said in a phone conversation with Gyaljong: "At this moment, I feel that everything inside me is in a sea of tears. I hope to recover my health soon. I would like to express my feeling of deepest gratitude for all the support I received while in prison and I want to be reunited with my family."
Lhamo Tso, wife of the imprisoned filmmaker who was granted US asylum in 2012 and now lives in San Francisco, is overjoyed. “Six years of injustice and painful counting the days ended today. It is a day of unbelievable joy for his parents in Dharamsala, our children and myself. We look forward to be reunited as a family," said Lhamo.
Dhondup Wangchen (born 1974 in Bayen, in Qinghai/Tibet) was sentenced to six years in prison on 28 December 2009 for 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 featured 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.
Wangchen, accompanied by his monk assistant Jigme who recently escaped to India, traveled to remote corners in the eastern region of Amdo and across the Tibetan plateau from October 2007 to March 2008 filming over thirty five hours of interviews. The tapes were smuggled out in March 2008 to Switzerland, where Wangchen's cousin Gyaljong edited them into a 25 minute film. The film has been screened in various parts of the world in twenty five different languages.