DHARAMSALA, March 27: Dhondup Wangchen, the self-taught Tibetan filmmaker-activist has been awarded a prestigious honour at the 11th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan filmmaker and former political prisoner has been awarded the 2019 Geneva Summit’s Courage Award for his “heroic efforts to spotlight and sound the alarm about China’s grave violations of the human rights of the Tibetan people.”
The Tibetan filmmaker, who is also the recipient of 2012 CPJ International Press Freedom Awards attended the event along with his family.
He was presented the award by Yang Jianli, a Chinese dissident and President of Initiative for China, at the conference organized by an international coalition of 25 human rights NGOs on Tuesday.
The Tibetan filmmaker-activist, in his acceptance speech, expressed his profound gratitude to the NGOs, Tibet Support Groups, various international governments and individuals who persistently advocated for his release.
He further urged the international community to support the Tibetan struggle which he said will help change the future of Tibetans.
Dhondup Wangchen (born 1974 in Bayen, in Qinghai/Tibet/China) was arrested in 2008 along with his monk assistant, Golog Jigme for interviewing more than 100 Tibetans in the remote areas of eastern Tibet on their opinion on the Beijing Olympics, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and about their lives under Chinese rule. The tapes were smuggled into exile and made into a 25-minute documentary film- “Leaving Fear Behind”.
While he was sentenced to six years in prison on December 28, 2009, on the charges of ‘subversion of state power’ and his assistant, Golog Jigme was detained for seven months during which he was severely tortured by the prison authorities. After his release, Jigme was constantly harassed by the authorities and rearrested on several occasions.
The New York Times described the Tibetan filmmaker’s documentary film as “an unadorned indictment of the Chinese government”. It premiered on August 6, 2008, in Beijing, a few days before the start of the Olympics and was clandestinely screened for foreign reporters in Beijing.
The documentary film has been translated into a dozen languages and has been screened in more than 30 countries worldwide.
Dhondup Wangchen, was released on June 5, 2014, after serving a six-year sentence and escaped from Tibet and reunited with his family on Christmas day in the US last year.
The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy is an annual human rights summit sponsored by a coalition of non-governmental organizations.