On Dec. 25, Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen arrived safely in San Francisco after escaping from Tibet, where he had been jailed for six years for producing a film, “Leaving Fear Behind,” documenting the harsh conditions of Tibetans’ lives under Chinese rule. On Dec. 28, RFA reporter Tashi Wangchuk spoke with Wangchen’s wife Lhamo Tso about her feelings following their reunion.
RFA: When Dhondup Wangchen first arrived in America, what went through your mind?
Lhamo Tso: It had been ten years, two months, and ten days since we last saw each other. And now, after so many years, we finally met on Dec. 25. In general, this is a cause for joy because this is a new day for us as a family. But at the same time, it is a feeling of joy mixed with sorrow. It has been three days now since we met again, but we still wonder if it’s true.
RFA: What did Dhondup Wangchen and the children say when they saw each other? What were their feelings?
Lhamo Tso: In the past, I used to think that children are forgetful and have short memories. But when Dhondup Wangchen arrived in person and hugged them, and spoke with them, I saw their faces change. Their way of speaking also changed. I never saw such a change in their manner before. So now when I think of them, I feel they are not just children. They are like adults, with the same feelings of heartache at missing their father. They would often run around jumping and ask ‘When will father come home? Tomorrow, or maybe the day after?’ So even now I am in a state of joy and sorrow together.
RFA: Who helped him to successfully escape?
Lhamo Tso: Mainly his elder brother Jamyang Tsultrim in Switzerland, his friend Wangpo Tethong, and several other friends. It was also thanks to all those people who had helped in the production and promotion of his film from the beginning. There were also people inside various governments who had a special interest in his case and who wrote to the government of China, asking for his release. To all those friends and supporters—to everyone who extended themselves in so many ways to help with his case—I would like to say ‘Thank you’ from the bottom of my heart.
RFA: Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Lhamo Tso: Through this interview, I would also like to say ‘Thank you’ to those friends, both men and women, who showed support to my husband Dhondup Wangchen. To those living in other countries, to those who called me on the phone, and to those who let us know you were holding us in our hearts even though you were unable to help with his case: I am grateful to you all, because when you shared your feelings and concern for us, it helped boost my willpower and showed me that in your hearts the same wish was there for our family’s reunion.
Today, I feel that my family’s wishes have been fulfilled, and I want to say that I have never felt happier than I do today.
Translated by Benpa Topgyal.