Sentenced to 6 years for a documentary
Tibet (occupied territory), action created 30.8.2010, petition is active
Tibetan film-maker Dhondup Wangchen has been imprisoned for "inciting separatism". He was detained in March 2008 for his involvement in making a documentary film about Tibetan attitudes towards the Beijing Olympics and the Dalai Lama. After a year of detention, he was secretly sentenced to 6 years in prison.
After Dhondup Wangchen's arrest, he was questioned for several weeks before escaping briefly, when he was able to tell a cousin he had been arrested. During this interrogation, he was beaten, tied to a chair, and denied both food and sleep.
In early 2009, his family hired two Beijing lawyers to represent him. They traveled to the prison in Qinghai province to negotiate access to their client three times, but the authorities refused their requests, stating that the charges against him included a "state secret."
In spring 2010, Dhondup was transferred to Xichuan prison, where he is sometimes forced to work up to 18 hours a day. Amnesty International considers Dhondup Wangchen a prisoner of conscience, because he has been imprisoned solely for expressing his beliefs.
Dhondup Wangchen comes from a Tibetan farming family. In October 2007, he and another monk, Golog Jigme, began shooting their documentary Leaving Fear Behind. This movie included a series of interviews with Tibetans about their views on the then upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, and on human rights violations in Tibet and the Dalai Lama. They interviewed a total of 108 Tibetans, and filmed about 35 hours of footage for the film. The footage was smuggled to Switzerland, where Dhondup has a cousin, who edited it down to a 25 minute film. The process was the first time Dhondup had ever held a camera in his hand. Because of the fear of possible repercussions of the film, Dhondup moved his parents, wife and children to India.