Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen has been languishing in prison because he made a short documentary about how Tibetans felt about the summer Olympics coming to Beijing in 2008.
He and his assistant were arrested on charges of inciting separatism shortly after the film was finished in 2008 and were given a six-year sentence.
His wife, Lhamo Tso, has recently come to the United States to lobby for someone to take up her cause of getting her husband released.
According to her, he has been diagnosed with hepatitis B and is being denied medical treatment.
Leaving Fear Behind is a straightforward man-on-the-street kind of documentary.
Some Tibetans didn’t want their faces shown in the film for fear of reprisals. Most, however, were courageous and spoke their minds freely while being recorded.
From what typical Tibetans say, China has been forcing them to resettle in areas where they cannot make a living, especially the nomads and their herds of cattle.
And, it appears the Chinese government is attempting to assimilate Tibetan culture by allowing ethnic Han to move to Tibet. It’s the same tactic they use with Uygurs in Xinjiang Uygur.
It appears that what Dhondup Wangchen wanted to do was to shed light on the Tibetans’ situation as the world looked to China in 2008.
Many of those interviewed have an abiding devotion to the Dalai Lama and are frustrated by the fact that he must live in exile and that they are not allowed to display photos of him.
It is important to watch this film to get a sense of what typical Tibetans face every day under Chinese rule. See it.
Leaving Fear Behind can be found online here.
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]