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ACTION: Dhondup Wangchen PDF Print E-mail
On 28 December 2009, following a trial behind closed doors, Dhondup Wangchen was given to a six-year prison sentence for conducting interviews to make a documentary. The resulting film, Leaving Fear Behind, follows Dhondups journey around Tibet in early 2008 where he interviewed Tibetans, asking them for their thoughts and views on the upcoming Olympic Games, the Dalai Lama and Chinese government policies in Tibet. Please take action for his release.

Take Action  |  Background  |  Current concerns  |  Lhamo Tsos campaign 
|  Links
(last updated May 2014)

Dhondup WangchenName: Dhondup Wangchen
Nationality: Tibetan
Born: 17 October 1974 in Bayen, Tsoshar, Tibet
Occupation: Film-maker
Arrested: 26 March 2008 for documenting Tibetans views
Charges: Inciting separatism, subversion of state power
Sentence: Six years in prison
Release date: 25 March 2014, postponed until 5 June 2014
Location:  Qinghai Provincial Womens Prison in Xining, Qinghai province (NB: It is not clear why Dhondup has been transferred to a women's prison.)

Take Action
1. Write to your MP
Ask your MP to request the Foreign Office to urgently look into Dhondup Wangchens case, and in particular to make enquiries to the Chinese government as to why he has not been released given he has served his six year sentence. Also to request  that he be allowed any required medical treatment, regular visits from his sister, and correspondence with his family.

Go to to find your MP's contact details.

2. Write to the Chinese Ambassador in the UK

Ask the Chinese government:
► To release Dhondup Wangchen immediately given that he has served his six-year prison sentence.
► In the interim, to grant access for an independent doctor to visit Dhondup Wangchen, conduct a medical examination, facilitate any required medical treatment and ensure a report on Dhondups health is sent to his family.
In the interim, to permit Dhondup to have direct contact with his wife and children through letters and phone calls and ensure he receives regular visits from his sister that are not subject to unexplained summary cancellations. These family access requests are allowed for under the Chinese Constitution..

Chinese Ambassador's address:
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming
Chinese Embassy
49-51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Note: The Embassy occasionally disables this email address (so your email is returned). If that is the case please try This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and/or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

3. Write a letter to Dhondup Wangchen
Former Tibetan political prisoners have testified to the fact that they became aware of the letters arriving at their prison from people around the world. This gave them a tremendous source of strength and encouragement. Letters to a political prisoner also send a signal to the Chinese authorities that the global community cares about the well-being of this individual, and that their treatment in prison is under scrutiny. Prison letter-writing campaigns have resulted in better conditions for prisoners and in some instances a reduced sentence.

Prison Address:
Dhondup Wangchen [Chinese: Dangzhi Xiangqian]
Qinghai Provincial Women's Prison
Nanshan Road No. 40
Xining City
Qinghai Province 810000
Peoples Republic of China

Please send copies of your letter to the following Chinese leaders:
(Copying your letters to the Party Chief of Qinghai and the Minister of Justice is more likely to make the prison authorities take note of this campaign.)
Wu Aiying, Ministry of Justice, No.10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie, Beijing 10002, People's Republic of China.
Qiang Wei, Secretary of the CPC Qinghai Provincial Committee, Qinghai Provincial General Office, No.12 Xidajie, Xining, Qinghai 810000, People's Republic of China.

When writing your letter please remember:
  • to include Dhondup Wangchen's name as it is known in Tibetan - Dhondup Wangchen, and in Chinese - Dangzhi Xiangqian.
  • to include a simple greeting, with a little bit of information about how you heard about Dhondup Wangchen and why you have decided to write to him.
  • to use common sense and basic precautions, remembering that the letters you send will be read by the prison authorities.
  • you do not need to include your full address, but your name and country of origin will help to show the breadth of global support.
To ensure that Dhondup Wangchen and the authorities know of the wide reaching support for his release, we advise that you include text in Chinese and Tibetan. You can cut and pasted the text from a PDF document which can be downloaded here.

4. Screen Leaving Fear Behind in your local community
Tibet Society has produced DVDs of Leaving Fear Behind for use as a campaign tool to raise awareness of Dhondup's case. The DVDs are available for 3 each and can be
ordered online or by contacting Tibet Society on 020 727 1414.

5. Download the profile & action sheet on Dhondup Wangchen
ImageDownload, print and distribute the sheet to your friends and colleagues. (It is a four page PDF document - ideally printed as a booklet, i.e. 2-up, double-sided on an A4 sheet). Alternatively, contact Tibet Society to be sent leaflets in the post - 020 7272 1414, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Background information
Dhondup WangchenOne of ten children, Dhondup was born on 17 October 1974 into a farming family in Bayen in the Tsoshar region of Amdo. Whilst growing up, Dhondup received no formal education, but can now read and write a little. In 1993 he made the arduous journey out of Tibet to India, travelling on foot to receive a teaching by the Dalai Lama. He returned to Tibet motivated to work for the benefit of the Tibetan people.

2007: Film project begins
In the autumn 2007, with his friend Jigme Gyatso, Dhondup began work to document the views of Tibetans living in Tibet. Both men understood the risk they were taking, however they were determined that the unheard voices of ordinary Tibetans should reach the world stage. In Dhondup Wangchens own words, At a time of great difficulty and a feeling of helplessness, [the idea of our film is to] get some meaningful response and results. It is very difficult [for Tibetans] to go to Beijing and speak out there. So that is why we decided to show the real feelings of Tibetans inside Tibet through this film.

26 March 2008: Arrested 
In March 2008, shortly before Dhondup and Jigme Gyatso were arrested, footage of the film was smuggled out of Tibet. In October 2008, Jigme was released but then re-arrested in September 2012 and has not been heard from since. Dhondup was held in detention for over 20 months until his trial, during which time he was tortured. It also emerged he contracted Hepatitis B and did not receive medical treatment.

28 December 2009: Sentenced
Dhondups trial was carried out behind closed doors. The lawyer appointed by his family was only allowed to meet Dhondup once before being forced to stop representing him by the Chinese authorities. Dhondup was handed a six year prison sentence for inciting separatism and subversion of state power. The dire lack of due legal process and the extreme sentence meted out for what were tenuous charges again shows the complete disregard the Chinese government has for meaningful legal reform and civil rights.

Dhondup formally appealed the sentence and in February 2010 was due to meet Chinese lawyer Chang Boyang to go over proceedings. However the Chinese authorities did not allow the meeting and Chang Boyang was threatened with the closure of his law firm if he did not drop the case.

6 April 2010: Transferred to labour camp
Following the unsuccessful appeal, Dhondup was transferred to Xichuan Prison, in Qinghai province, a notorious labour camp, known for its harsh living and working conditions.

October 2010: Serious health concerns
Reports were received indicating Dhondup may be suffering from a heart problem. The conditions of the labour camp and the forced labour (up to 17 hours a day) are likely to have contributed to his overall ill-health. Dhondup is only allowed one visit a month from his sister. His wife, Lhamo Tso, who lives in exile, has had no direct contact with him since his detention in March 2008.

June 2011: Removed from hard labour
Dhondup was removed from hard labour duties at Xichuan Prison. The reason is not known, but Lhamo Tso believes the campaigning and high-profile nature of Dhondups case may have had an impact. He still has work duties, but these are believed to be less strenuous and for shorter hours.

January 2013: Transferred to women's prison
In an unusual move, the Chinese authorities transferred Dhondup to Qinghai Provincial Women's Prison. The reason for the move is not clear, as the prison does not normally hold Tibetans or political prisoners. However, it is understood Dhondup is currently in stable health and his day-to-day conditions have improved.

March 2014: Release delayed
Dhondup's prison sentence was due to finish on 25 March 2014. However, his family received word that a judge had postponed Dhondups release until 5 June 2014. The reason for this delay is not known.

Current concerns
Though Dhondups health has stabilised, he still needs frequent medical attention. In addition, Dhondup is still only allowed one visit a month from his sister (who lives in Tibet), but this is not always facilitated. He is not allowed any direct contact through letters or telephone with his wife and children who live in exile. Parcels sent by his family in exile have been returned unopened.

Lhamo Tso: campaigning for her husbands release
Lhamo TsoDhondups wife Lhamo Tso, who lives with their four children in Dharamsala, India, continues to appeal to China and the international community for her husbands release. In January 2010, following news of Dhondups sentence, Lhama Tso said, My husband is not a criminal; he just tried to show the truth.

On 19 May 2010, on hearing the news of her husbands failed appeal and transfer to a labour camp, she said, We are absolutely desperate now ... China has made it clear that it is impossible for us to work inside their legal system. Therefore I appeal to foreign governments to intervene to secure the immediate and unconditional release of Dhondup Wangchen, who did nothing more than exercise his right to freedom of expression.

Lhamo Tso is gravely concerned for Dhondups health and is asking that an independent doctor can conduct a thorough medical examination and follow up with relevant treatment. She also wants to have direct contact with her husband through letters or phone calls. Her final plea is for the Chinese government to grant Dhondup early release through medical parole.

Click here to watch an appeal by Lhamo Tso to supporters to campaign for Dhondup's release.
Click here to read about Lhamo Tso's tour to the UK in November 2011.

Watch an appeal by Lhamo Tso:
Watch Leaving Fear Behind online:
Leaving Fear Behind website:

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Overseas 36; Life 500).

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