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Tibetan filmmaker temporarily released from prison

October 20, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
October 18, 2008

Dharamsala, October 18 -- Jigme Gyatso, who assisted filmmaker
Dhondup Wangchen for taping interviews with Tibetans in Tibet about
their lives under Chinese government rule, has been temporarily
released and placed under probation after being held for nearly seven
months, their production company, based in Switzerland, disclosed today.

Jigme Gyatso, also known as "Golog Jigme", was temporarily released
from Kachu (in Chinese: Linxia) prison on October 15, 2008, a
statement released by the production company, Filming for Tibet, said.

According to the statement, the 39-year old Buddhist monk is now back
to his Labrang Tashikyil Monastery in Gansu Province.

The statement, however, said it was not clear from the information
received from Tibet if all charges against Jigme had been dismissed.
"He was told by the authorities that he will stay under observance
and his probation will last one year," it said.

Chinese police in the western province of Qinghai (Amdo) arrested
Jigme and Wangchen in March 2008, shortly after they sent footage
filmed in Tibet to the production company, which is headed by a
relative of Wangchen.

A 25-minute film titled "Jigdrel," or "Leaving Fear Behind," was
produced from the footage and is available online. The film was
intended to shed light on the lives of Tibetans in China in the
run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Wangchen and Jigme traveled to remote corners in the eastern region
of Amdo and across the Tibetan plateau from October 2007 to March
2008 filming over thirty five hours of interviews. The tapes were
transported in March 2008 to Switzerland, where Wangchen's cousin
Gyaljong Tsetrin put the final cut together.

The film features twenty ethnic Tibetans; their views on the Beijing
Olympics, the present situation inside the country and the return of
the Dalai Lama.

Following his release, the statement said, Jigme Gyatso told sources
that he was severely tortured after his arrest in March 2008. The
interrogators beat him continuously and hanged him by his feet from
the ceiling for hours and kept him tied for days on the interrogation
chair. During the interrogations he fainted several times due to the
beatings. After May 12 when the region was shaken by strong
earthquakes beatings stopped and after August 11 there was a
noticeable improvement.

According to the statement, a big crowd of fellow monks and nearby
Tibetans gave Jigme an emotional welcome upon his arrival at Labrang
Tashikyil monastery on October 15.

"According to sources in Tibet who were present, the crowd cheered
him and thanked him for filming the documentary 'Leaving Fear
Behind'", the statement said.

Jigme Gyatso was born in 1969 in Golog Serta, in the Kardze region of
Kham (in Chinese: Ganzi, Sichuan province).

Tenzin Lushol, another monk from Labrang, arrested for activities not
in connection with the filming, was also released from Kachu prison
and accompanied Jigme Gyatso to Labrang, the statement said.

However, Dhondup Wangchen is still in detention, and the statement
said there was no news on his pending trial.

New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Friday
condemned the detention of the two filmmakers and said information
about their arrests have not been formally acknowledged by Chinese authorities.

For more information, contact: Gyaljong Tsetrin (Tibetan/Chinese) +41
76 462 67 68
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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