DHARAMSALA, May 28: Golog Jigme, the Tibetan monk who assisted Dhondup Wangchen in the making of a documentary critical of Chinese rule in Tibet titled, “Leaving Fear Behind” said he set aside his plan to self-immolate before a Chinese police station so that he can continue to be of service to the Tibetan people.
He made the revelation at a press conference held today in Dharamsala by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights (TCHRD) and Democracy and Filming for Tibet.
After escaping from Chinese prison on September 30, 2012 and hiding in the mountains for one year and eight months following an official order for his arrest on false murder charges, Golog Jigme managed to escape Tibet and reached safely at the Tibetan Reception Centre in Dharamsala on May 18.
“It still feels like a dream to be here before you after passing through so many life-threatening dangers and risks,” were the first lines that he spoke to people from the press before explaining in detail about his background, why he protested against the Chinese government, his community service in Tibet, arrests and torture, his escape and his appeal to the international community.
He said Tibetans inside Tibet are protesting against the Chinese government because of the repressive policies implemented in Tibet by the Chinese government.
“How the Chinese Government has been preventing His Holiness the Dalai Lama from returning to Tibet and the constant vilification towards him, forced ‘patriotic reeducation’ in the monasteries, the destruction of Tibetan language and identity, marginalization of Tibetans and stifling of the true aspirations and sufferings of the Tibetans, spreading rumors on the lack of support by Tibetans to His Holiness’ middle way approach when in reality 99% of Tibetans accept his approach, exaggerating dominance of the Chinese Communist Party, confiscation of lands from Tibetans are all the reasons why I protested. I can confidently say that these are the same reasons why Tibetans inside Tibet resist against the Chinese Government,” he said.
Golog Jigme noted that the Tibetan protests and campaigns against China, including making of the documentary, “Leaving Fear Behind” which he and his friend Dhondup Wangchen directed were carried out to highlight the mistakes of the Chinese Government and therefore create the necessary understanding; that such campaigns were strictly carried out in a non-violent manner and not a single Chinese was killed nor any objects vandalized.
Following his arrest on March 23, 2008 for making the documentary he was detained for 6 months and 22 days during which he was brutally tortured and as a consequence, even today, he occasionally suffers from severe pain in certain parts of his body.
“For 51 days until 12 May I was brutally tortured because of which I sustained injuries to my backbone, eyes, hands and feet. Some of my ribs were broken and my knee joints were dislocated too. Even today I continue to have severe pain on the backbone and ribs and my knee dislocates whenever my body gets cold,” he said.
“When I was first arrested, my hands and feet were shackled and I was tied hanging for 10 hours. Later, I experienced similar torture seven times, which often lasted for a maximum of 5 hours and a minimum of 2 hours. They accused me of making the documentary ‘Leaving Fear Behind’ and being a member of the Tibetan Youth Congress. They tried to force me to accept that the 2008 uprising was not an uprising but an act of violence. Moreover, they also accused me of not making defamatory remarks against His Holiness. I conceded to those that applied and rejected those that didn’t apply to me.”
Golog Jigme was arrested again on April 10, 2009 and September 22, 2012 on allegations that he incited self-immolations across Tibet, shared state secrets with the outside world and many others.
He decided to escape from prison when he learned that the Chinese police were planning to kill him on the pretext of taking him to one of the military prisons in Lanzhou for check up.
“After learning their plan to kill me, I decided to escape. On 30 September I slept at 8 that night. Of the two guards, one had to leave early for an urgent matter and the other slept at midnight. After praying to His Holiness and with few efforts I was able to free myself from the chains. I noticed how other guards were busy playing Mahjong. As I proceeded towards the main gate, I felt lucky to find it open. At once, I ran out of the gate,” he said and added “For two months I ran and hid across the mountains, after which I was shocked to find that the Chinese Government has blamed me for murder. They have announced a reward of 200,000 RMB to whosoever discloses my whereabouts. The Chinese Government never made such accusation earlier when I was in their possession and never did I ever have intention of killing someone. I then thought of protesting this false allegation by setting myself on fire before either one of the police stations at Gansu or Sichuan. However after careful consideration, I decided not to proceed with the act: I felt perhaps because they are ashamed of my escape that they had to make such allegations; if I set myself on fire they will only continue to defame me by making such unimaginable allegations. But if I were to live I can continue to be of service to the Tibetan cause and thus I changed my mind.”
Golog Jime expressed his heartfelt thanks to all those people who helped him escape from every danger and assisted his coming into exile.
He called on the international community to take note of his four requests, which are as follows:
1. It pains me to see that no Government has been able to bring about a real effect. Though the world is influenced by economy, it is evident that without truth there can be no happiness and change. I therefore would like to request the international community. to pay heed to the voices of the Tibetan people. Tibetans are undergoing one of worst crisis and have been protesting non-violently.
2.Though my friend Dhondup Wangchen completes his sentence on June 5, it is always likely that the Chinese Government might prolong his sentence under some other false allegations. Therefore, I request the international bodies to continue to pressure the Chinese Government for his timely release.
3. Lately, the Chinese Government has been using its economic influence to propitiate the worship of Dholgyal in order to use it as political tool against the larger Tibetan cause and spread the rumour that His Holiness denies freedom of religion by banning the worship of such spirit. Such treacherous act where westerners have been paid by the Chinese to indulge in has caused great pains to all Tibetans. I therefore urge all of you in the west to not be influenced by China and become their political tool.
4. Finally I urge the international community and international bodies to support me in continuing my service to the people of Tibet and the restoration of its freedom; I ask you all to support me to help continue my work in reviving the Tibetan culture, creating awareness on the environment and promoting human rights.
TCHRD said Golog Jigme’s story exposes the claims made by the Chinese government on various international platforms that they have reduced the use of torture to get information from prisoners.
“We have enough reasons to believe that the Chinese government resorts to kill people by administering various kinds of injections under the pretext of medical check up and the Chinese government almost got rid of Golog Jigme using the same tactic. Therefore, it raises the issue of whether the Chinese government should be sued for murder rather than people like Golog Jigme,” TCHRD’s director, Tsering Tomo said.
Through an audio-visual message, Gyaljong Tsetrin, the president of Filming for Tibet welcomed Golog Jigme and expressed his happiness at finally seeing him in a place of safety.
“There is so much the Tibetans in exile can learn from Golog Jigme’s work and it will help us to better understand the efforts of the Tibetans inside Tibet to struggle for political and cultural survival,” Gyaljong said.
Golog Jigme was born to father, Topden and mother, Zamdron in Sertha, Golog in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo. He is the third oldest among five children in his family. He became a monk at the age of 15 and later under the tutelage of his teachers he joined the historic LabrangTashkhyil Monastery. Since then, he has witnessed tightening restrictions and limits imposed by the Chinese Government on the number of monks to be allowed in the monastery and those attending the prayer sessions. He studied at the monastery till 2008.