By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 15: Tibetan activist and filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen on Wednesday testified at a hearing of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, in the American capital in Washington DC.
The hearing titled, Tibet “From All Angles”: Protecting Human Rights, Defending Strategic Access, and Challenging China’s Export of Censorship Globally was chaired by Senator Marco Rubio and co-chaired by Representative Christopher Smith on Wednesday in Washington DC.
Wangchen who escaped Tibet and came into exile to US in December essentially spoke on why he made the acclaimed documentary, ‘Leaving Fear Behind’, his consequent arrest and the scrutiny on him after he was released after serving over seven years in Chinese prison.
The Tibetan activist said he underwent “both physical and mental torture” during his prison term experiencing notorious torture methods such as sleep and food deprivation and the infamous “tiger’s chair”.
The Tibetan filmmaker told the congressional panel that he felt that there was no avenue for grievances of Tibetans to be addressed under Chinese rule and that his film that documented voices and concerns of ordinary Tibetans prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, exposed Beijing’s false claim of freedom and human rights in Tibet.
He called on the US government to earnestly pass the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act and also appoint the vacant post of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues in the US state Department.
Tenzin Dorjee, Commissioner, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and Associate Professor, California State University, Fullerton and Michael J. Green, Senior Vice President for Asia and Japan Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also testified at the hearing.
Dorjee said that China’s heavy-handedness at Larung Gar exposed the lack of religious freedom in Tibet and that Beijing’s claim over the reincarnation process of the next Dalai Lama is clearly politically motivated.
Dhondup Wangchen spent over seven years in Chinese prison, charged with “inciting subversion” after he made a documentary that depicted voices of resistance from ordinary Tibetans over Chinese rule in Tibet.