Tibetan monk who helped make “Leaving Fear Behind” escapes into exile

DHARAMSALA, May 20: Jigme Gyatso, also known as Golog Jigme who assisted Dhondup Wangchen in the making of his documentary film, “Leaving Fear Behind” reached Dharamsala safely after escaping from Tibet.

Upon his arrival on May 18, representatives of various Dharamsala-based NGOs gave him a warm welcome by offering him traditional scarves at the Tibetan Reception Centre where he is presently staying.

During the run up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jigme Gyatso assisted Dhondup Wangchen in interviewing Tibetans in Tibet on their opinion on 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”.

Jigme Gyatso in Dharamsala, May 19, 2014. Photo courtesy: filmingfortibet.org
Jigme Gyatso in Dharamsala, May 19, 2014. Photo courtesy: filmingfortibet.org

The documentary, described by The New York Times as “an unadorned indictment of the Chinese government”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.

Jigme Gyatso was arrested along with Dhondup Wangchen in March 2008 and detained for seven months during which he was severely tortured by the prison authorities.

After his release he was constantly harassed by the authorities and rearrested on several occasions.

Jigme Gyatso then disappeared in 2012 after Chinese police issued official orders for his arrest on trumped-up “murder charges”.

Recently, Reporters Without Borders honored Jigme Gyatso by including his name among their list of “100 Information Heroes” on World Press Freedom Day.

Born in 1969 in Golog Sertha in Kandze region of traditional Kham Province, Jigme Gyatso was a monk of Labrang Tashi Khyil monastery.

Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for making the documentary and is scheduled to be released in June this year.




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