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Two Tibetan political prisoners in international spotlight PDF Print E-mail
[7 May 2014] The cases of Tibetan political prisoners Dhondup Wangchen and Jigme Gyatso have been given international prominence by two human rights organisations. Dhondup Wangchen has been awarded the 2014 Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent and Jigme Gyatso has been profiled as one of 100 "information heroes" to mark World Press Freedom Day.

Dhondup Wangchen
Dhondup WangchenTibetan film-maker Dhondup Wangchen, imprisoned in 2008 for making the documentary Leaving Fear Behind
, has been awarded the 2014 Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent by the US-based Human Rights Foundation.

According to the Human Rights Foundation, the prize "celebrates those who, with bravery and ingenuity, unmask the lie of dictatorship by living in truth". This year's recipients are Dhondup Wangchen, the Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot and Turkish performance artist Erdem Gunduz. Previous recipients include Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Vaclav Havel PrizeThe prize ceremony is to be held on 14 May in Oslo. The prize laureates will receive an artists representation of the Goddess of Democracy
(pictured right), the iconic statue erected by Chinese students during the Tiananmen Square protests of June 1989. They will also share a prize of 350,000 Norwegian kroner. Dhondup Wangchen will be honoured in absentia during the ceremony.

Dhondup Wangchen was arrested by the Chinese authorities in March 2008 after filming and interviewing Tibetans in Tibet. He was charged with "inciting separatism" and "subversion of state power" and sentenced to six years in prison. The footage was smuggled out of Tibet and was made into the film
Leaving Fear Behind.

Dhondup's prison sentence was due to be completed on 25 March 2014. However, his family received word that a judge had postponed his release until 5 June. The reason for the delay is not known.

HRF logoThe Human Rights Foundation promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. It focuses on the ideals represented in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the freedom of self-determination.

Jigme Gyatso
Jigme Gyatso
Jigme Gyatso, a monk and activist who assisted Dhondup Wangchen in filming Leaving Fear Behind, has also had his case highlighted. Jigme (also known as Golog Jigme) was named as one of Reporters Without Borders 100 "information heroes" to highlight World Press Freedom Day on 3 May.

The "information heroes", according to Reporters Without Borders, were selected for their "courageous work or activism" which has helped to promote the freedom enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom to to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Jigme Gyatso was arrested in March 2008 along with Dhondup Wangchen. Jigme spent seven months in detention before being released. He was tortured and beaten during his detention. In September 2012,
Jigme was re-arrested by the Chinese authorities. His family have had no news since his arrest. The reason for the arrest is not known, nor is it known where he is being held or what condition he is in.

RWB logoReporters Without Borders, is an international NGO that defends freedom of information, fights censorship and assists persecuted journalists.

Further reading:

2014 Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent
Background on Dhondup Wangchen (Tibet Society)
100 Information Heroes (Reporters Without Borders)
Profile of Jigme Gyatso (Reporters Without Borders)
TAKE ACTION for Dhondup Wangchen & Jigme Gyatso (Tibet Society)

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