Detained Monk Who Helped Make Controversial Tibetan Film Escapes to India

By Richard Finney
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Golog Jigme Gyatso in Dharamsala, May 19, 2014.
Golog Jigme Gyatso in Dharamsala, May 19, 2014.
Photo courtesy of Filming for Tibet

A Tibetan monk believed to have been under detention for two years for helping to make a documentary film on the lives of Tibetans under harsh Chinese rule has escaped to India, the filmmaker’s cousin said Monday.

Golog Jigme Gyatso, believed to be 45 years old and a native of Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county in Sichuan, had disappeared in 2012 in China’s Gansu province after being sought by police and was believed to have been secretly taken into custody.

Gyaljong Tsetrin, cousin of jailed Dhondup Wangchen who made the film “Leaving Fear Behind,” said in a statement that Gyatso was able to escape, apparently from Chinese custody in Tibet, and flee to India’s hill-town Dharamsala.

"[We are] happy to share the amazing news of Golog Jigme's safe arrival in Dharamsala, India," the statement, issued by Tsetrin's  film company Filming for Tibet, said.

Tsetrin did not explain how Gyatso got to the hill-town of Dharamsala, seat of the Tibetan government in exile, at the weekend.

Tsetrin “has spoken to him and is relieved that Golog Jigme was able to escape from Tibet, finally reaching the Tibetan Reception Centre in Dharamsala on May 18, 2014,” the statement said.

Welcomed on arrival

Gyatso was welcomed by friends and various nongovernmental organizations upon arrival at the reception centre,” The Tibet Post International said in a report Monday.

“He was not available for comments at the moment, but will be holding a press conference in the next few days,” The Post said in its report.

Gyatso, formerly a monk in Gansu’s Labrang monastery, had previously been detained in March 2008 for helping Dhondup Wangchen make the controversial film.

The 25-minute film features interviews with Tibetans living in Tibet’s northeastern Amdo region who express their views on Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the hardships of life under Chinese rule—topics considered politically sensitive by Chinese authorities.

Gyatso, who was beaten and tortured while detained in 2008, was included this year by Paris-based press freedoms group Reporters Without Borders on its list of “100 Information Heroes,” released on World Press Freedom Day, May 3.

Reporters Without Borders said Gyatso was known among fellow Tibetans as a “monk of moral integrity and a sincere social worker.”

Dhondup Wangchen was arrested by Chinese authorities and is serving a six-year term in prison.





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