Dhondup Wangchen

Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen has been sentenced to six yearsʼ imprisonment. This is a press release from the site “Leaving Fear Behind” where clips from the film of the same title is to be found.

Zurich, 6. January 2010. Dhondup Wangchen, the Tibetan filmmaker who is currently in Chinese detention, has been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by the provincial court in Xining (capital of Qinghai province). His arrest in March 2008 came shortly after completion of filming for his documentary film «Leaving Fear Behind» in which Tibetans spoke out about their lives in Tibet.

The sentencing took place on 28 December 2009 but his relatives in Xining were neither informed about the trial nor the verdict. According to reliable information, Dhondup Wangchen will appeal the sentence but the appeal period will expire on Thursday, 7 January 2010. Furthermore, Dhondup Wangchen has no access to independent legal assistance. The lawyer originally hired by his family was barred from representing him by the Chinese government. His wife Lhamo Tso, who is together with her children on pilgrimage in Bodh Gaya/India, said today: «I appeal to the court in Xining to allow my husband to have a legal representative of his own choosing. My children and I feel desperate about the prospect of not being able to see him for so many years. We call on the Chinese authorities to show humanity by releasing him. My husband is not a criminal, he just tried to

show the truth.»

«The fact that my cousin Dhondup Wangchen has to enter the appeal process without legal assistance shows how human rights are trampled upon by the Chinese government in Tibet» said Gyaljong Tsetrin, co-producer of «Leaving Fear Behind», «I am also greatly concerned about Dhondup Wangchenʼs health as he has contracted Hepatitis B through the poor conditions and torture he has endured in prison and is not receiving medical treatment. I ask myself how he will survive in prison for six years.»

Dhondup Wangchen was born on 17 October 1974 in Bayen, Tsoshar area of Amdo in northeastern Tibet (Chin: Hualong, Haidong, Qinghai). He comes from a poor farming family without formal education. As a young man, he travelled to Lhasa and also to India. After his return to Tibet he was determined to document the true situation in his country and tell the outside world. Out of concern for his family, he escorted his wife and four children to India in 2006 before commencing filming the documentary. «Leaving Fear Behind» has been screened in over 30 countries around the world.

For further information

Gyaljong Tsetrin, +41 764 626 768 (Tibetan/Chinese)

Lhamo Tso +919817150217 (Tibetan)

Wangpo Tethong +41 78 744 30 10 (English/Tibetan)




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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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