Tibetan Filmmaker Sentenced to Six Years in Prison བོད་སྐད།

The family of a Tibetan filmmaker says China has sentenced him to six years in prison for subversion, after he interviewed Tibetans for a documentary.

News reports Wednesday said Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced December 28. The family said Wangchen was not allowed to have a lawyer at the proceedings.

Dhondup Wangchen interviewed other Tibetans over a series of months, ending with his arrest in March 2008. The interviews included subjects such as the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, the Beijing Olympics, and Chinese rule of Tibet.

He and a cousin used the footage to produce a documentary called "Leaving Fear Behind," a 25-minute documentary that is an unadorned indictment of the Chinese government. Although given the choice to conceal their identities, most of his subjects spoke uncloaked and freely expressed their disdain for the Han Chinese migrants who are flooding the region and their love for the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959.

"The Chinese are saying that they have made so many improvements in Tibet. But we don't see any improvement at all," Dhondup Wangchen said in his film.

"The truth is that Tibetans are not free to speak of their suffering," he said.

Wangchen and his assistant, a Tibetan monk named Jigme Gyatso, were both arrested in March 2008. Gyatso was released seven months later.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and NYT.