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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Fearless Film-maker Tortured, Released; Chinese Security Forces Brawl with Tibetan Civil Servants

October 23, 2008

Agam's Gecko Blog
October 22, 2008

One of the two-man film-making team responsible for JIGDREL - LEAVING
FEAR BEHIND has been released from detention. Jigme Gyatso (also
called Golog Jigme, for his home region), has been released from
Kachu (Ch: Linxia) Prison after months of severe torture, according
to a statement by the producers of the film in Switzerland.

Jigme Gyatso and his partner Dhondup Wangchen were both arrested soon
after sending their tapes out of the country on March 10 this year.
The film was then completed by Dhondup's cousin, a Swiss citizen, and
had an underground premiere in Beijing two days before the Olympic
opening (you may view the film at the first link).

There is no information on the whereabouts or condition of Dhondup
Wangchen, who is awaiting trial for his transgression of recording
actual Tibetan views about their country. He was last seen at a
prison in Sining City, Qinghai. In the press release, available at
the film's website, Jigme's ordeal was briefly described.

"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."

Jigme Gyatso is a monk at the Labrang Tashikyil Monastery, and that
is where he has now returned -- on notice that he will be closely
watched (who at Labrang isn't?) and under "probation." It is not
known if he still faces charges. His brother monks and other Tibetans
warmly welcomed him home.

"A big crowd of fellow monks and nearby Tibetans gave him an
emotional welcome 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."

Tenzin Lushol, another detained Labrang monk (not in connection with
the film) was released along with Jigme and returned home with him. A
number of the Labrang monks had earlier been detained / disappeared
following their speaking of the truth to foreign news media on a
government tour to the monastery.

And earlier this month, Chinese police and soldiers brawled with a
group of Tibetan government workers in Amdo. Around 20 young Tibetan
civil servants gathered for dinner at a restaurant in Tsoe City (Ch:
Hezuo), the main city in Kanlho Prefecture (Ch: Gansu Province) on
the evening of October 11. As they were leaving, a group of police
and soldiers confronted them.

"The Tibetans argued with the police and soldiers and declared that
they would not be intimidated as other Tibetans in the area had
been," the source said.

"The argument then erupted into a brawl. One policeman and one
soldier, both Chinese, were seriously injured and taken to a local hospital."

"The Chinese authorities responded by detaining 18 Tibetans," the source added.

The government workers are all originally from other parts of Amdo
such as Chone, Sangchu, Machu and Luchu Counties, according to the
source. The account was confirmed by a second source, who also
described the security situation in the city.

"Many policemen and soldiers are stationed in Hezuo. And they are
constantly harassing local Tibetans who move around the city.

"Moreover, the way the Chinese have treated Tibetans since the March
uprising in different parts of Tibet has hurt not only common
Tibetans, but also those who are employed in government departments."

Another eyewitness also gave the same description of the incident,
adding that all those detained have since been released.

"They reported back to work," he said. "I don't want to say anything
about the length of time they were detained or how much they were fined."

Critics of China say that it should allow Tibet to have autonomy, to
preserve its traditional culture and to allow the Dalai Lama to
return to Tibet.

China says that Tibet has long been part of China, that Tibet has
benefited from modernization, and that the Dalai Lama should not be
allowed to return because he aims to split Tibet from China.

Is your view closer to the critics' view or China's view?

Tibet/China poll result

A world public opinion survey has been done in an attempt to gauge
attitudes among several Asian and Western populations on the Tibet issue.

National samples were taken during January and February 2008 (well
before Tibet was dominating the news). Nearly 5,000 respondents in
six countries (UK, France, USA, Indonesia, South Korea and India)
took part in the survey, representing both urban and rural residents.
The margins of error range from 3.2 - 4.1%.

In both Indonesia and India, the survey was conducted face-to-face.
The Indian sample is overweighted on the urban side (60% of
respondents vs. around 30% urban in actuality) in states which make
up 77% of India's population. The Indonesian sample covers
approximately 87% of Indonesia's population.

It's somewhat disappointing to see so much support for Chinese
communist imperialism in India -- about one third -- and support for
Tibet's preservation only slightly higher than that (of course, some
Indian states actually have communist-run governments who likely
control school curriculum and other things).

On the other hand, good show Indonesia! If you look at the "don't
know" gaps in the chart, Indonesia actually has a slightly higher
proportion than India. I'm pleasantly surprised that only 34% of
Indonesians don't know the issue. When that shrinks, expect to see
the blue bar increase as it does with increased knowledge in the
other countries (South Koreans are the most knowledgeable among these samples).

The survey results page states, "In nearly every country polled,
criticism of China is higher among those with greater education."
India was the only exception to this.

Steven Kull, director of the comments, "While
China's image in the world is generally moderately positive, it
appears that China's image is being harmed by its policies on Tibet.
The recent violence in Tibet may mean that China will face increasing

World opinion does matter to Chinese leaders, and in this propaganda
war they are losing badly. Given the apparent function of increased
knowledge leading to increased support for the Tibetan view, this can
only get worse for China in the future. Only with a policy shift away
from Cultural Revolution-style repression will they ever have a hope
of turning these attitudes around.

It would be wonderful if these results would instill a bit of
seriousness among Chinese leaders in time for the next -- and
possibly last -- Tibet / China meeting, expected soon.
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