China jails Tibetan filmmaker for six years

Tapes of film smuggled out after completion

BEIJING -- A Chinese court has jailed a Tibetan filmmaker for six years after he made a documentary in which ordinary Tibetans praised the Dalai Lama and complained about how their culture had been trampled upon, campaigners said.

The film, "Leaving Fear Behind," features a series of interviews with Tibetans who talk about how they still love their exiled spiritual leader and think the Beijing Olympics did little to improve their lives.

Dhondup Wangchen and his monk friend, Golog Jigme, were detained shortly after finishing the film, but managed to smuggle tapes out of the country.

Dhondup Wangchen's sentencing took place on December 28 in Xining, Qinghai's provincial capital, said a statement on a Web site promoting the film, which is also campaigning for his release.

The Web site said the filmmaker had no access to outside legal help, and the government had barred a lawyer hired by his family from representing him.

"I appeal to the court in Xining to allow my husband to have a legal representative of his own choosing," his wife, Lhamo Tso, said in the statement.

"My children and I feel desperate about the prospect of not being able to see him for so many years. We call on the Chinese authorities to show humanity by releasing him. My husband is not a criminal, he just tried to show the truth."

Tibetan protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in March 2008 gave way to torrid violence, with rioters torching shops and turning on residents, especially Han Chinese, who many Tibetans see as intruders threatening their culture.

At least 19 people died in the unrest, which sparked waves of protests across Tibetan areas. Tibetan exile groups say more than 200 people died in the subsequent crackdown.
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