China Releases Jailed Tibetan Film-Maker Dhondup Wangchen

Former farmer had served six years for subversion.

HONG KONG — A Tibetan film-maker Dhondup Wangchen was this week released from jail in China.

He had served a full six year prison term for subversion after making a documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind” about the lives of ordinary Tibetans. Some of the interviews in the film praised the Dalai Lama while others criticized the choice of China as a venue for the Olympic Games.

The film was made with Swiss and British backing, but screened in China on DVD ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Wangchen initially served time at a labor camp, but he was this year moved to a women’s prison where conditions are less severe. He was released in Xining, Qinghai Province.

His release came three weeks after his assistant Golog Jigme Gyatso fled into exile in India.

“China should seek to end its stigma as one of the world’s leading jailers of the press by releasing the many journalists unjustly imprisoned for their work,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, after learning of Wangchen’s release.

Currently governed as an autonomous region of China, Tibet’s political status remains controversial.

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