By Phuntsok Yangchen
Golok Jigme speaks to reporters, McLeod Ganj, May 28, 2014/Phayul Photo/Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, May 28: The Tibetan monk who assisted in making of a documentary film critical of the Chinese government’s policies in Tibet said he thought of setting himself on fire in protest against Chinese government’s allegation against him of murder in 2012.
“The Chinese government never made such accusation when I was in their captivity, neither did I ever have intention of killing someone. I then thought of protesting this false allegation by setting myself on fire in front of one of the police stations in Gansu or Sichuan,” Golok Jigme Gyatso, who escaped to India earlier this month, said in his first interaction with the media.
"However, after careful consideration, I decided not to proceed with the plan. I felt perhaps they were embarrassed by my escape in 2012 that they had to make such allegations. I thought if I set myself on fire they would only continue to defame me by making such unimaginable allegations. I thought I could continue to be of service to the Tibetan cause by being alive and thus I changed my mind,” said Jigme.
Speaking about Dhondup Wangchen, Jigme said, “Though my friend Dhondup Wangchen completes his sentence on June 5, it is always likely that the Chinese Government might extend his sentence under some false allegations. Therefore, I request the international bodies to continue to pressure the Chinese government for his timely release.”
He also spoke about the Chinese government’s policies which he said were designed to destroy the Tibetan culture and thereby eliminating the Tibetan identity. “I protested against the Chinese government for forcing its wronged policies upon us Tibetans, torturing and imprisoning Tibetans arbitrarily and forcing us Tibetans to denounce our beloved leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
He said he has been a witness to the Chinese government’s interference in Tibetan monastic administration through patriotic reeducation campaign.
Jigme 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 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 and Jigme 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 Tsetrin edited them into a 25 minute film.
Golok Jigme was first arrested in March 2008 from Labrang Tashi Khyil and was detained for about 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 was rearrested many times.
On September 2012, Jigme ran out from the prison on learning Chinese plan to kill him and hid across mountain for two months. Following his escape from prison, Chinese government accused him on murder charges and made an announcement offering 200,000 Chinese Yuan for information on Jigme.
Since 2009, 131 Tibetans inside Tibet has set themselves on fire in Tibet protesting against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies.
Jigme also appealed to the international community and world bodies to support the Tibetans in restoring their freedom.
He was recently honored by the Reporters Without Borders among their list of “100 Information Heroes” on World Press Freedom Day.
Jigme was born in 1969 in Serta, Golog in Amdo Province.