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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."

China Frees Monk Filmmaker

April 27, 2009

by Kalsang Rinchen
April 22, 2009

Dharamsala, April 22 - A monk who assisted in
production of documentary film criticizing China
has been released on Monday in Labrang, Sangchu
County, Association of Tibetan Journalists (ATJ)
said in a press statement today.

Golok Jigme Gyatso had assisted Dhondup Wangchen
in shooting his documentary film "Leaving Fear
Behind" that was intended to shed light on the
lives of Tibetans in China in the run-up to the
2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The film featured
a series of interviews with Tibetans talking
about how China had destroyed the Tibetan
culture, violated religious freedom and their
undying reverence for the exiled leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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

Tashi Wangchuk, President of ATJ said, "We
welcome Jigme’s release. It is a culmination of
efforts put forth by international rights groups,
Tibetans under His Holiness’ leadership and above
all the courage and determination of Jigme himself."

According to ATJ, a heavy monetary fine of
several thousand Yuan was levied on Jigme at the
time of his release by the Chinese authorities
who accused him of disseminating information to
the outside world. This, ATJ said, is simply a
violation of freedom of expression. “Therefore,
we urge the Chinese authorities at higher level
to investigate into the matter and take necessary
action as per the law," he added.

Jigme was first arrested in March 2008 for
secretly shooting video but was later released in
October. He was arrested again last month, kept
in custody for about 40 days. Jigme had sensed
international pressure on the Chinese officials
who interrogated him and was treated unusually
better than other prisoners, according to ATJ.

"We urge the Chinese government to also release
Kunga Tsangyang, Kunchok Tsephel, Dhodup
Wangchen, Dolma Kyab and many others, who were
put behind bars for simply expressing their views
through films, blogs, poems, articles and essays etc," added Tashi.
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