Dhondup Wangchen is a Tibetan filmmaker currently imprisoned by the Chinese government on charges related to his documentary “Leaving Fear Behind”
In 2006, Dhondup Wangchen and friend Jigme Gyatso, a senior Tibetan monk, conceived of a documentary interviewing ordinary Tibetan people on their views of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government in the year leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The documentary was to be called Leaving Fear Behind. The pair coordinated their efforts with a Dhondup Wangchen’s cousin Gyaljong Tsetrin, who remained in Switzerland. In preparation for likely reprisals by the Chinese government, Dhondup Wangchen moved his wife, Llamo Tso, and their four children to Dharamsala, India.
The 25-minute documentary resulting from Dhondup Wangchen and Jigme Gyatso’s footage was described by The New York Times as “an unadorned indictment of the Chinese government”. The documentary premiered on the opening day of the Olympics and was clandestinely screened for foreign reporters in Beijing.
Following Dhondup Wangchen’s March 2008 arrest, he was held for several days in unofficial detention at Gonshang Hotel. While there, Chinese security forces allegedly beat him and deprived him of food, water, and sleep. He was later moved to Xining City No. 1 Detention Centre, where he was held incommunicado until April 2009, when he was allowed to meet with his lawyer, Li Dunyong. Three months later, however, Li Dunyong dropped his case, reporting that he had been ordered to do so by judicial authorities. Another lawyer was reportedly threatened with the closing of his law firm if he chose to defend Dhondup Wangchen.
On 28 December 2009, Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to six year’s imprisonment for “subversion”, following a secret trial in Xining. On 7 January 2010, he was reportedly denied the right to appeal his sentence when he was not allowed access to his lawyer.
His family stated that he has contracted Hepatitis B while imprisoned, and his health is said to be failing. In April 2010, he was transferred to Xichuan Labour Camp in Qinghai Province. Work at the camp reportedly includes the manufacture of bricks, concrete, and aluminum-alloy windows. [Source: Wikipedia]