Tibetans urge UN to seek release of filmmaker in China

DHARAMSALA - The Tibetan government-in-exile, based in this north Indian hill station, Saturday appealed to UN rights chief Navanethem Pillay to facilitate the release of Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen who was arrested in China in March 2008.

“We request you (Pillay) to kindly intervene to provide immediate medical assistance and unconditional release of Dhondup Wangchen, an amateur Tibetan filmmaker. He is seriously ill,” the government-in-exile said in a statement posted on its official website.

“The Chinese government has barred Wangchen from meeting his family members, including four children, who are in India. We urge you to take this matter with Chinese authorities,” the statement said.

Wangchen and his assistant Golok Jigme were arrested by Chinese authorities in March 2008 for making “Leaving Fear Behind”, a film shot in Tibet detailing lives of the Tibetan people under China’s rule, views about the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and the Beijing Olympics.

The Dalai Lama, along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in this hill station in 1959. His government-in-exile is headquartered here and is not recognised by any country in the world, including India.

Nearly six million Tibetans live in Tibet region of China while over 150,000 live in other countries, most of them in India and Nepal.

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