Tibetan Filmmaker Held

Chinese authorities detain a monk who helped produce a film describing Tibetans' lives under Beijing's rule.

Undated photo of Golog Jigme Gyatso.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Updated at 8:55 a.m. EST on 2012-11-06

A Tibetan monk who assisted in the filming of a 2008 documentary on the lives of Tibetans under Chinese rule has disappeared and is believed to be in the custody of Chinese authorities who also have destroyed his home in Gansu province, sources said.

Golog Jigme Gyatso, aged around 43 and a native of Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county in Sichuan, vanished after traveling to the Gansu provincial capital Lanzhou for “personal reasons,” Serthar Tsultim Woeser, a Tibetan living in India, told RFA.

“He was returning from Lanzhou on Sept. 20 and disappeared on the way, and nobody knows where he is,” Woeser said, citing sources in the region.

“Some days ago, Tibetan residents of Golog Jigme’s native area learned that local Chinese authorities were asking questions about him in his home village of Ragcham in Serthar county.”

“Therefore, we are sure he has been detained again,” Woeser said.

Golog Jigme Gyatso had been detained several times in the past after drawing police attention for helping an exile Tibetan filmmaker, Dhondup Wangchen, film the documentary “Leaving Fear Behind.”

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 perceived hardships of life under Chinese rule—topics considered politically sensitive by Chinese authorities.

Tortured in detention

Woeser said that Golog Jigme was severely tortured after he was first detained in March 2008.

“He was hanged from the ceiling for many hours with his hands and legs tied behind his back, and he lost consciousness several times because of beatings by Chinese security forces,” Woeser said.

Electric batons were also thrust into his mouth and eyes, and he was deprived of food and sleep, Woeser said.

Golog Jigme was detained again on March 13, 2009, and held for a month before being expelled from Gansu province's Labrang monastery, where monastic authorities eventually provided him with another home.

“On Sept. 5, 2012, Chinese officials told him to move out of the house, citing ‘renovation’ as the reason. But after he left, the house was demolished by a Chinese construction crew and the rubble was searched for anything that might incriminate him.”

In spite of Chinese suspicions, “nothing was uncovered,” Woeser said.

Brothers detained

Separately, Chinese authorities at the end of last month took into custody two brothers who had worked to preserve Tibetan language and culture in a restive county in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

“On Oct. 28, Dawa and his younger brother Lhadrub  were suddenly detained by the Chinese and were taken to an unknown location,” India-based Tibetan reporter Ngawang Tharpa told RFA, citing sources in the region.

The brothers come from the Do family of Meri town in the Tsala subdivision of Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in the Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture, Tharpa said.

Driru county has been the scene of frequent protests—including an Oct. 25 self-immolation by two cousins—challenging Chinese rule.

Dawa and Lhadrub were known to be “very patriotic” and had initiated several projects aimed at preserving and promoting the use of the Tibetan language, Tharpa said.

Human rights groups have expressed concern over the increasing number of Tibetan detentions amid the 63 self-immolations in protest against Chinese rule since February 2009.

The London-based Free Tibet said recently it "has grave concerns for the well being of the hundreds of Tibetans who we know are in detention following protests, often in locations unknown to their families, without any legal rights and at very serious risk of being tortured."

Reported by Chakmo Tso and Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul and Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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