Agam's Gecko
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Jigme Gyatso
'Golog' Jigme Gyatso, fearless film-maker, is back at Labrang.
Photo: Leaving Fear Behind

ne of the two-man film-making team responsible for JIGDREL - LEAVING FEAR BEHIND has been released from detention. Jigme Gyatso (also called Golog Jigme, for his home region), has been released from Kachu (Ch: Linxia) Prison after months of severe torture, according to a statement by the producers of the film in Switzerland.

Jigme Gyatso and his partner Dhondup Wangchen were both arrested soon after sending their tapes out of the country on March 10 this year. The film was then completed by Dhondup's cousin, a Swiss citizen, and had an underground premiere in Beijing two days before the Olympic opening (you may view the film at the first link).

Dhondup Wangchen
Dhondup Wangchen, fearless film-maker, remains in abusive detention.
Photo: Leaving Fear Behind
There is no information on the whereabouts or condition of Dhondup Wangchen, who is awaiting trial for his transgression of recording actual Tibetan views about their country. He was last seen at a prison in Sining City, Qinghai. In the press release, available at the film's website, Jigme's ordeal was briefly described.
"Jigme Gyatso told sources that he was severely tortured after his arrest in March 2008. The interrogators beat him continuously and hanged him by his feet from the ceiling for hours and kept him tied for days on the interrogation chair. During the interrogations he fainted several times due to the beatings. After May 12 when the region was shaken by strong earthquakes beatings stopped and after August 11 there was a noticeable improvement."
Jigme Gyatso is a monk at the Labrang Tashikyil Monastery, and that is where he has now returned -- on notice that he will be closely watched (who at Labrang isn't?) and under "probation." It is not known if he still faces charges. His brother monks and other Tibetans warmly welcomed him home.
"A big crowd of fellow monks and nearby Tibetans gave him an emotional welcome at Labrang Tashikyil monastery on October 15. According to sources in Tibet who were present, the crowd cheered him and thanked him for filming the documentary Leaving Fear Behind."
Tenzin Lushol, another detained Labrang monk (not in connection with the film) was released along with Jigme and returned home with him. A number of the Labrang monks had earlier been detained / disappeared following their speaking of the truth to foreign news media on a government tour to the monastery.

And earlier this month, Chinese police and soldiers brawled with a group of Tibetan government workers in Amdo. Around 20 young Tibetan civil servants gathered for dinner at a restaurant in Tsoe City (Ch: Hezuo), the main city in Kanlho Prefecture (Ch: Gansu Province) on the evening of October 11. As they were leaving, a group of police and soldiers confronted them.
"The Tibetans argued with the police and soldiers and declared that they would not be intimidated as other Tibetans in the area had been," the source said.

"The argument then erupted into a brawl. One policeman and one soldier, both Chinese, were seriously injured and taken to a local hospital."

"The Chinese authorities responded by detaining 18 Tibetans," the source added.
The government workers are all originally from other parts of Amdo such as Chone, Sangchu, Machu and Luchu Counties, according to the source. The account was confirmed by a second source, who also described the security situation in the city.
"Many policemen and soldiers are stationed in Hezuo. And they are constantly harassing local Tibetans who move around the city.

"Moreover, the way the Chinese have treated Tibetans since the March uprising in different parts of Tibet has hurt not only common Tibetans, but also those who are employed in government departments."
Another eyewitness also gave the same description of the incident, adding that all those detained have since been released.
"They reported back to work," he said. "I don’t want to say anything about the length of time they were detained or how much they were fined."
Critics of China say that it should allow Tibet to have autonomy, to preserve its traditional culture and to allow the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet.

China says that Tibet has long been part of China, that Tibet has benefited from modernization, and that the Dalai Lama should not be allowed to return because he aims to split Tibet from China.

Is your view closer to the critics' view or China's view?
Tibet/China poll result

world public opinion survey has been done in an attempt to gauge attitudes among several Asian and Western populations on the Tibet issue.

National samples were taken during January and February 2008 (well before Tibet was dominating the news). Nearly 5,000 respondents in six countries (UK, France, USA, Indonesia, South Korea and India) took part in the survey, representing both urban and rural residents. The margins of error range from 3.2 - 4.1%.

In both Indonesia and India, the survey was conducted face-to-face. The Indian sample is overweighted on the urban side (60% of respondents vs. around 30% urban in actuality) in states which make up 77% of India's population. The Indonesian sample covers approximately 87% of Indonesia's population.

It's somewhat disappointing to see so much support for Chinese communist imperialism in India -- about one third -- and support for Tibet's preservation only slightly higher than that (of course, some Indian states actually have communist-run governments who likely control school curriculum and other things).

On the other hand, good show Indonesia! If you look at the "don't know" gaps in the chart, Indonesia actually has a slightly higher proportion than India. I'm pleasantly surprised that only 34% of Indonesians don't know the issue. When that shrinks, expect to see the blue bar increase as it does with increased knowledge in the other countries (South Koreans are the most knowledgeable among these samples).

The survey results page states, "In nearly every country polled, criticism of China is higher among those with greater education." India was the only exception to this.
Steven Kull, director of the WorldPublicOpinion.org comments, "While China's image in the world is generally moderately positive, it appears that China's image is being harmed by its policies on Tibet. The recent violence in Tibet may mean that China will face increasing criticism."
World opinion does matter to Chinese leaders, and in this propaganda war they are losing badly. Given the apparent function of increased knowledge leading to increased support for the Tibetan view, this can only get worse for China in the future. Only with a policy shift away from Cultural Revolution-style repression will they ever have a hope of turning these attitudes around.

It would be wonderful if these results would instill a bit of seriousness among Chinese leaders in time for the next -- and possibly last -- Tibet / China meeting, expected soon.

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