Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved to learn that Dhondup Wangchen, a well-known Tibetan filmmaker who was under house arrest in the central city of Xining after being imprisoned for six years, has finally managed to leave China. He arrived in the United States ten days ago.
With the help of Jigme Gyatso, a monk also known as Golog Jigme, Wangchen made a 25-minute documentary entitled “Leaving Fear Behind” in 2007 that showed the culture of the Tibetan people and their attachment to their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Wangchen was arrested after the documentary was secretly screened to a small group of foreign journalists in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games and was given a six-year jail sentence in late 2009. Gyatso was imprisoned for seven months after being interrogated and tortured.
At the time, RSF launched a petition in support of Wangchen that ended up gathering nearly 14,000 signatures. He was finally released in June 2014 but remained under a form of house arrest.
“Many recent cases, including those of Liu Xia and Gui Minhai, have shown that the Chinese authorities can no longer be believed when they say a prisoner of conscience has been released, so departure from China is the only real proof that they have recovered their freedom, although pressure can always be put on family members still in China,” said Cédric Alviani, the head of RSF’s East Asia bureau.
China is one of the world’s worst countries in terms of the freedom to inform and is ranked near the bottom of RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index – 176th out of 180 countries.
(c) 2018 Reporters without Borders