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DW

Zurich, 5 June 2015

Today, 5 June 2015, marks the one year anniversary of Dhondup Wangchen’s release from prison in Qinghai’s provincial capital Xining. Dhondup Wangchen had served a six year prison sentence for making the documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind”. However, far from being a free man, Dhondup Wangchen has endured a year of surveillance and closer monitoring, with his movements and communications restricted.
Lhamo Tso, wife of Dhondup Wangchen who was granted US asylum in 2012 and now lives in San Francisco, can’t  to travel to China or Tibet to see her husband due to her asylum status. She said: “I, as well as his aged parents, had hoped that Dhondup Wangchen’s release from prison would bring our family closer together again. But this year has been just as hard as the previous years as we are still separated. My children and I are incredibly frustrated that their father hasn’t been allowed to join us in USA.”

Gyaljong Tsetrin, Zurich-based cousin of Dhondup Wangchen and producer of “Leaving Fear Behind” said: “I have very limited contact with Dhondup Wangchen as the authorities are monitoring his every move. I know from my own experience how hard it is upon release from prison and to be in ill health. The authorities apply all kinds of restrictions on former political prisoners. I hope that I will be able to meet him again when he is truly free.”

Dhondup Wangchen has been generally staying with relatives in Khotse in Tibet since his release. He is not recovering his health and is still suffering from his liver problems and high blood pressure which is a constant source of concern for his family and friends abroad.

Contact:
Lhamo Tso, San Francisco (Tibetan only) +1 (510) 680-3244 (please note Pacific Time!)
Gyaljong Tsetrin, Zurich (Tibetan only)  +41 76 462 67 68

(1) Khotse (ཁོ་ཚེ), (in Chinese, 科却 Keque) Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9MRH4 ;

Golog Jigme on Arrival in Zurich Airport, with Members of Filming for Tibet
(Photo by Filming for Tibet)

Zurich, 24 January, 2015

Tibetan monk, filmmaker and social activist Golog Jigme, aka Jigme Gyatso, arrived in Switzerland on the morning of 24 January 2015 from India. Approximately 40 Tibetans gave Golog Jigme a heroes welcome at Zurich airport upon his arrival at 7am with Tibetan flags and welcoming banners.

Representatives from the Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Tibetan Women’s Association, and from the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe Filming for Tibet, took turns to present Golog Jigme with a khata (a Tibetan white ceremonial scarf).

Golog Jigme addressed the assembled crowd with a few words, “I’m extremely touched to see so many of you here today, thank you for welcoming me to Switzerland. I’d like to thank you for welcoming me. I will seek medical consultation and treatment. While I am here I also plan to explore ways in which I can continue my work for Tibet”.

This is Golog Jigme’s first trip to a Western country. Golog Jigme was jailed by China for assisting filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen in the making of the documentary “Leaving Fear Behind” in 2008. He was arrested in 2008 and released after months of torture. However, he suffered from continued harassment by the police and then disappeared in 2012 after the police started a hunt for him under false charges. After spending almost one year and 18 months in hiding, fearing for his life, Golog Jigme fled to India and finally reached the Tibetan Reception Centre in Dharamsala on 18 May, 2014.

Gyaljong Tsetrin, President of Filming for Tibet and old friends with Golog Jigme said, “It’s wonderful that Golog Jigme has reached Switzerland, a safe country with excellent medical facilities. It’s important that Golog Jigme rest and recuperate after all the torture and hardships he has suffered over the last few years.”

On 25 January, 2015, there will be a welcome event for Golog Jigme in Zurich where he will also give a talk.

In May 2014, Golog Jigme was listed by Reporters Without Borders among their list of “100 Information Heroes” on World Press Freedom Day.

Dhondup Wangchen, after six years in prison, thanks his family, friends and supporters for their tireless efforts and hopes to see them soon.

Portrait

Dharamsala | Zurich | San Francisco, June 5, 2014  –  Dhondup Wangchen, the imprisoned Tibetan video-activist,  was released from prison in Qinghai’s provincial capital Xining this morning after serving a six year sentence.  After some discussion with the authorities, he was finally driven by the police to Khotse (in Chinese, Keque, about two hours drive away from Xining) where he reached his sister’s home after at around 15.00hrs local time.(1)

In a phone call to Gyaljong Tsetrin, cousin and president of Filming For Tibet, living in Switzerland,  a very emotional Dhondup Wangchen said: “At this moment, I feel that everything inside me is in a sea of tears. I hope to recover my health soon. I would like to express my feeling of deepest gratitude for all the support I received while in prison and I want to be reunited with my family.”

Lhamo Tso, wife of the imprisoned filmmaker who was granted US asylum in 2012 and now lives in San Francisco, is overjoyed: “Six years of injustice and painful counting the days ended today.  It is a day of unbelievable joy for his parents in Dharamsala, our children and myself. We look forward to be reunited as a family.”

Gyaljong Tsetrin, his cousin and co-producer of “Leaving Fear Behind”, said after talking him to: “Though Dhondup is still under the control of the Chinese authorities I am very relieved that he finally could leave prison and has now the possibility to consult a doctor.”

Dhondup Wangchen’s case is known internationally. He has been awarded by various international organisations such as Committee to Protect Journalists for his courageous work making the documentary “Leaving Fear Behind” and his case was the focal point of many campaigns of international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders. Government representatives around the world have brought up his case in their talks with their Chinese counterparts.

The self-taught cameraman and video-activist travelled across Tibet with his assistant Golog Jigme in 2007/2008. His film “Leaving Fear Behind” (28 min.) has been translated into a dozen languages and has been screened in more than 30 countries worldwide. Golog Jigme recently just arrived in India after a spectacular escape from Tibet.

Dhondup Wangchen (born 1974 in Bayen, in Qinghai/Tibet/China) was sentenced to six years in prison on 28 December 2009. He was transferred on 6 April 2010 to the Xichuan prison, a labour camp concealed as an industrial manufacturer under the name of “Qinghai Xifa Water and Electricity Equipment Manufacture Installment Limited Liability Company”.(2)  In March 2012 he was put in solitary confinement for approximately six months and was transferred in January 2013 in an unusual move to the Qinghai Provincial Women’s Prison(3), the main prison for women in Qinghai province where he was the only male Tibetan political prisoner.

(1) Khotse (ཁོ་ཚེ), (in Chinese, 科却 Keque) Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9MRH4 ;
(2) Xichuan Labor Camp on Google Map: http://tinyurl.com/xichuan-prison.
(3) Address Qinghai Provincial Women’s Prison: 青海省女子监狱:青海省西宁市城中区南山路40号,邮政编码 810000


Media Contact
Lhamo Tso, San Francisco (Tibetan only,  +1 (510) 681-3244 (please remind Pacific Time!)
Gyaljong Tsetrin, Zurich (Tibetan only)  +41 76 462 67 68
Dechen Pemba, London  (English, Tibetan)  +44 74633 62253
Wangpo Tethong, Zurich (German, Tibetan)  +41 78 744 30 10

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2 Overiew of PrionsFreedom Bird action in Xining/Qinghai Province
(In the background the blue rooftops of the Qinghai Women’s Prison)
Copyright Unchain The Truth

1 Infront of Labour Camp
Freedom Bird in front of the prison
(Qinghai Province Women’s Prison, Nanshan Road 40, 810000 Xining City, Qinghai Province, PR China), Copyright Unchain The Truth

Zurich, March 25, 2013: In a daring show of solidarity, friends of Dhondup Wangchen inside Tibet displayed origami birds of freedom in front of the prison in Xining where the filmmaker is being held. The photo shows an installation of “freedom birds” along with a hand drawn banner saying “Thank You” to supporters of Dhondup Wangchen around the world for taking action for his safe return. The photo may document the first action ever in front of a prison or labour camp where Tibetan political prisoners are being held.

A Global Day of Action was held for Dhondup Wangchen’s safe return on March 22, 2014 and supporters in countries as diverse as Brazil, Belgium, USA, India and Switzerland folded and distributed origami birds of freedom in public. These awareness raising solidarity acts highlighted Dhondup Wangchen’s last few months of unjust imprisonment.

“These stunning photos from Tibet are very touching” said Gyaljong Tsetrin, founder of Filming for Tibet and cousin of Dhondup Wangchen. “The photos show that not only that Dhondup Wangchen is not forgotten but that the efforts and actions of people of conscience all over the world are being noticed and appreciated inside Tibet with deepest gratitude.”

Dhondup Wangchen was arrested on March 26, 2008.  In our view, his six year sentence should end today, March 25, 2014. The judge however has postponed it to June 5, 2014, for unknown reasons.

Media Contacts:
Gyaljong Tsetrin (Tibetan only)  +41 76 462 67 68
Dechen Pemba (English, Tibetan)  +44 74633 62253
Wangpo Tethong (German, English)  +41 78 744 30 10

San Francisco, October 9, 2013 – Lhamo Tso and actor Peter Coyote were not received by Consul Yuan Nansheng today. The Chinese Consulate did not answer the doorbell despite letting in at least two other people around that time.

Lhamo Tso and Peter Coyote had no choice but to drop the envelope for Dhondup Wangchen with birthday cards from the children and pictures in the letterbox of the Chinese Consulate. Lhamo Tso and Peter Coyote then held a press conference outside the Consulate to explain why they were taking action on the occasion of Dhondup Wangchen’s upcoming birthday on October 17.

Lhamo Tso: “I’m disappointed that the Chinese Consulate would not receive us today and that my husband Dhondup Wangchen will have to spend another birthday alone in prison, far away from his family. It would have meant a lot to him to receive the cards and letters from his children who miss him a great deal. At this time, I’d like to thank Peter Coyote for his support and help today and also the many people around the world who have expressed solidarity with Dhondup Wangchen.”

Photo Download:
1. Lhamo Tso showing picture of her children
2. Lhamo Tso and Peter Coyote in front of the Chinese Consulate

Contact:
Mrs. Lhamo Tso, 510-681-3244 (ONLY TIBETAN)
Mr. Peter Coyote, c/o Elizabeth Ross,  Assistant to Peter Coyote,  415-385-9908
Ms. Tenzin Tselha, Students for a Free Tibet, 510-289-5691
Mr. Giovanni Vassallo, Bay Area Friends of Tibet, 415-264-3264

Wife of Imprisoned Tibetan Filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, Supported by Actor Peter Coyote, Demands Safe Return for her Husband

PRESS RELEASE (International Version)

Photo Download:
1. Lhamo Tso showing picture of her children
2. Lhamo Tso and Peter Coyote in front of the Chinese Consulate

Contact:
Mrs. Lhamo Tso, 510-681-3244 (ONLY TIBETAN)
Mr. Peter Coyote, c/o Elizabeth Ross,  Assistant to Peter Coyote,  415-385-9908
Ms. Tenzin Tselha, Students for a Free Tibet, 510-289-5691
Mr. Giovanni Vassallo, Bay Area Friends of Tibet, 415-264-3264

(San Francisco) 9 October 2013 – Lhamo Tso, wife of filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, accompanied by actor Mr. Peter Coyote, will go to the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco today to handover letters and pictures for her husband who is in a prison in China and whose birthday is on October 17.

Mr. Coyote said that he was told about the case of Dhondup recently and decided to accompany and support Lhamo Tso in her struggle to reunite her family:  “It is hard to imagine a great country like China, threatened by a documentary film maker. Keeping him imprisoned can only make the world suspect that he must have been telling inconvenient truths. Even if that were the case, are we to believe that China would so publicly disdain the human right of free expression by keeping Dhondup Wangchen behind bars for a movie?”

Lhamo Tso said: «The reason for my growing worry is an observation that is shared by many people: In the past few months a wave of releases of Tibetan writers and activists has taken place. The health conditions of all the released men were deplorable. I urge all people to help me to bring the father of my children back.”

Lhamo Tso, who has been invited by various groups from all over the world to speak about her husband, now lives in San Francisco. Her four children are in India, in an exile-Tibetan orphanage and are expected to join her as soon as possible. The Bay Area Friends of Tibet helped Lhamo Tso to settle in San Francisco

Dhondup Wangchen’s case is known internationally. He was awarded by different groups for his courageous documentary. The self-taught camera man and film maker travelled across Tibet with his assistant Golog Jigme in 2007/2008. His film “Leaving Fear Behind” (28 min.) was translated in a dozen languages and screened in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Download PDF

Letter of Lhamo Tso to Consul Yuan Nansheng 
Letters of the children to their father Dhondup Wangchen
Letter I of Lhamo Tso to her husband (Tibetan)
Letter II of Lhamo Tso to her husband (English, Tibetan, Chinese) send earlier in 2013
Background on releases of political prisoners.

 

 

Lhamo Tso, wife of Dhondup Wangchen, launches campaign for Jigme Gyatso

Filming for Tibet information has collected, with the help of Lhamo Tso, information about Tibetan monk Jigme Gyatso (aka “Golog Jigme”) that clearly indicate the charges against him of manslaughter are baseless. Lhamo Tso, an old friend of Jigme Gyatso, is appealing to the US government and governments around the world to request the officials in China to stop the manhunt.

Since the surprising charges against Jigme Gyatso first appeared, Filming for Tibet has tried to shed light on the case and started research into the matter. The findings of this research are as follows:

1. Over the past weeks and months, individual reports appeared on Facebook by Westerners living in China and Tibetans who know Jigme Gyatso that protest against the idea of manslaughter. Filming for Tibet representatives have met with several of these voices in person and have been reassured that the background for the PSB search are baseless and motivated by other, unknown, reasons.

2. There has been a systematic outreach by Filming for Tibet to reliable sources in Tibet who say:

a. There has been no case of manslaughter whatsoever that can be brought in a connection with Jigme Gyatso
b. His whole personality is against violence. It is unthinkable that he could bring harm to any person.
c. Repeatedly, the opinion was voiced that Jigme Gyatso’s political and social activism might be the real reason for the arrest and the harsh statements following his disappearance/flight from the PSB. See the photos below for his involvement with relief work after the earthquake in eastern Tibet in 2010.

3. There have been a series a phone call to PSB in Gansu. Analysis of the recordings of the phone calls show that the PSB official are embarrassed by their initial charges and show no signs of confidence in the reason for their search campaign. Repeated requests to repeat the charges are met with either complete silence ( Video: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=384667598286240 ) or evasive statements such as claiming not to be able to hear well or not understanding the other person ( Video: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151152729405423 )

Lhamo Tso, wife of Dhondup Wangchen, has been friends with Jigme Gyatso for more then 16 years. Currently in the US, Lhamo Tso is carrying out advocacy work and appealing to the US Secretary of State to take action to ensure the safety of Jigme Gyatso. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry dated January 25, 2013, Lhamo Tso wrote: “Today, I write to you requesting your support for Jigme Gyatso, also known as Golog Jigme, a man who is very dear to my family. Jigme Gyatso is a Tibetan monk and an old friend of mine who helped my husband to realise the film […] Together with friends and supporters of my husband, I am trying to find ways to help him. I am convinced that if foreign governments inquire about his case, some level of protection will be provided to him. Therefore, I request the US government to approach the Chinese government and ask them about the case of Jigme Gyatso.”

Contacts:
Lhamo Tso, +1-510-681-3244, (Tibetan)
EMail: media[at]leavingfearbehind.com

Wangpo Tethong
“Filming for Tibet” spokesperson, +41 787 44 3010 (English, German, Tibetan)
EMail: media[at]leavingfearbehind.com

Dechen Pemba, “Filming for Tibet” spokesperson, +44 20 3286 7681 (English)
EMail: media[at]leavingfearbehind.com

Zurich, January 21, 2013: In an unusual move, it has been learned by Filming for Tibet that filmmaker and political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen has been transferred from Xichuan labour camp to Qinghai Provincial Women’s Prison, the main prison for women in China’s Qinghai province [1].

Following a visit to Dhondup Wangchen by close family members on January 15, 2013, Dhondup Wangchen spoke of previous harsh treatment at Xichuan labour camp, including several months of solitary confinement that started in March 2012. Although being held in improved conditions, Dhondup Wangchen and his family are unaware of the reasons for his transfer, particularly to a women’s prison with no other Tibetan inmates or political prisoners.

“Although we are relieved to hear that Dhondup Wangchen is in stable health, we share Dhondup Wangchen’s own concerns as he says he feels isolated and alone in this prison,” said Gyaljong Tsetrin, cousin of Dhondup Wangchen and President of “Filming for Tibet”. “There is still well over a year until Dhondup Wangchen will have served his 6 year sentence for making ‘Leaving Fear Behind’, it is our wish that in this time Dhondup Wangchen suffer no maltreatment and be granted access to books so that he can study, something he has repeatedly requested but has been forbidden from doing,” continued Tsetrin.

Around the world, individuals and groups have built a growing coalition for Dhondup Wangchen. In 2012, US based Committee to Protect Journalists awarded Dhondup Wangchen for his work and groups such as Amnesty International intensified campaign efforts. In the past, many Tibetan prisoners have been maltreated before release which leads to severe health problems. Dhondup Wangchen’s family hopes international awareness will prevent such problems and lead to his secure release.

Notes:
1. The details of the prison are Qinghai Provincial Women’s Prison: 青海省女子监狱:青海省西宁市城中区南山路40号,邮政编码 810000. The photo below shows the location on Google Earth.

Press Contacts:
Gyaljong Tsetrin, President of “Filming for Tibet” and close friend of Jigme Gyatso, +41764626768 (Tibetan & Chinese)
Dechen Pemba, “Filming for Tibet” spokesperson, +44 20 3286 7681 (English)

EMail: media[at]leavingfearbehind.com

Filming for Tibet Contests the Official Arrest Order for Jigme Gyatso, Missing Since September 2012

Zurich, November 30, 2012: There are growing concerns for the safety of Jigme Gyatso (aka Golog Jigme), the Tibetan monk who assisted Dhondup Wangchen in making the 2008 documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind”. Jigme Gyatso has been missing since September 20, 2012 and since November 27, 2012, text messages have been sent out by Public Security Department of Gansu Province officially ordering his arrest [1].

Filming For Tibet has called the Public Security Bureau in China’s Gansu province (for details and phone numbers, see below) and demanded full disclosure of all facts about Jigme Gyatso’s disappearance. Filming for Tibet asserts that the PSB’s unsubstantiated charges clearly reveal their intention to destroy Jigme Gyatso’s good reputation as a social and cultural activist, highly respected for his work in the community.

The text messages claim that Jigme Gyatso is “suspected of committing voluntary manslaughter”, a charge that his Zurich-based close friend Gyaljong Tsetrin strongly contests. “There can be no basis for this charge of manslaughter. Jigme Gyatso is a Tibetan monk who has always firmly believed in non-violence,” said Gyaljong Tsetrin. “In fact, the Chinese government often hands down politically motivated trumped-up charges to Tibetans. Innocent Tibetans such as Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Karma Samdrup and Lobsang Tenzin are all languishing in prison even to this today so I’m extremely fearful for Jigme Gyatso’s current safety and well-being. [2]”

The charges conflict with and contradict the PSB’s own activities and measures against Jigme Gyatso. Since 2008 Jigme Gyatso has been under the constant surveillance and control of the PSB. He has been repeatedly called in, interrogated and just recently his living quarters were destroyed, marking a new level of harassment. It is up to the PSB to explain how a man under such strict controls could have committed an action such as the one he is being charged with.

Jigme Gyatso assisted Dhondup Wangchen in making “Leaving Fear Behind” and for many years has been a cultural and social activist in Tibet, committed to transmitting Tibetan language and culture to the younger generation [3]. When a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the county of Yushu in Kham on April 14, 2010, Jigme Gyatso rushed to the area to help coordinate relief work and spent more than ten days there [4].

Filming for Tibet calls on governments to confront the Chinese authorities with the facts about Jigme Gyatso’s disappearance and demand independent legal support for Jigme Gyatso. Meanwhile, Filming for Tibet continues to and motivates its friends to call the PSB on the phone numbers in the official order and demand a stop to the witch hunt for Jigme Gyatso.

Press Contacts:
Gyaljong Tsetrin, President of “Filming for Tibet” and close friend of Jigme Gyatso, +41764626768 (Tibetan & Chinese)
Dechen Pemba, “Filming for Tibet” spokesperson, +44 20 3286 7681 (English)

Notes:
[1] Below is a screenshot of the text message being sent by the Public Security Department of Gansu Province and English translation:

[Source: https://twitter.com/MyYak/status/273811569719246848/photo/1/large]

Order for Arrest: Golog Jigme, with the lay name Lotra and also known as Jigme Lobsang, male, Tibetan, from Kardzé Prefecture of Sichuan Province. He is a monk in Labrang Monastery, and his ID No. is 513333196502121616. He is suspected of committing voluntary manslaughter, and now we are issuing the order for his arrest. Meanwhile, we will award any unit who is able to capture Golog Jigme or any individual who provides clues for his whereabouts will be awarded 200,000 Yuan.
The phone numbers to notify the authorities are: 13519629133, 13519658733, 09318535111, 09318535115.
The Public Security Department of Gansu Province

[2]
- Tenzin Delek Rinpoche , a lama and social activist in eastern Tibet, was handed a death sentence that was later commuted to a life sentence in 2003. Amongst the trumped up charges against him was “conspiring to cause a series of explosions”.
- Karma Samdrup, a wealthy philanthropist, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2010 on charges of “excavating ancient cultural relics and tombs”.
- Lobsang Tenzin, s student, was handed a death sentence in 1988 that was later commuted to 20 years in prison. He was charged as “principal culprit” in a murder charge during a protest in Lhasa.

[3] Photo showing Jigme Gyatso with his young students. Jigme Gyatso often taught young Tibetans about language and culture and is a much-loved and respected teacher. (Photo credit: Filming for Tibet)

[4] After the huge earthquake that struck Yushu in Kham in April 2010, Jigme Gyatso (sitting in the centre) rushed to the area and tirelessly coordinated relief work. (Photo credit: Filming for Tibet)

The Tibet Film Festival will take place in Zurich for the third time from October 28 – 29 and this year for the first time also in Dharamsala from October 29 – 30. Internationally unique is the Short Film Competition aimed at Tibetans both from Tibet and in exile and which this year is taking place for the second time. In a versatile and artistic way, the participants take in what makes a difference for and moves Tibetans in Tibet and in exile. Last year’s festival included contributions from Asia, North America and Europe.

This year’s festival focuses on the theme of “Ama” (Tibetan for Mother). “We have chosen the theme “Ama” because of its universality. When thinking about “Ama”, it could be about one’s own ancestry or searching for ones origin. The artistic implementation of the theme however, should remain completely open”, said Lobsang Sotrug, director of the film “Tiger Nose” and co-organiser of the Tibet Film Festival. The deadline for entries for the competition is September 15, 2011. The detailed terms and conditions for participating can be found here. Of particular interest this year is the parallel event of the Tibet Film Festival taking place in Dharamsala (North India). More information on the event in India will be released at a later date. The selected entries will be screened both in India and Switzerland and will run in competition for the $500 / $300 / $200 Jury Award and the $200 Audience Award. Furthermore the films in competition will be posted on the “Filming for Tibet” homepage to be seen long after the festival. Alongside the films in competition, new films of various genres by contemporary Tibetan film directors will be screened.

The Tibet Film Festival is a collaboration between the organisations “Filming for Tibet” and “Tibetan Youth Association in Europe” and offers, over two days, alongside interesting film contributions, also other platforms such as workshop discussions and forums where the general public and filmmakers can exchange their views on film making and the topic of Tibet in general. There will also be musical performances, Tibetan food and bar at the Tibet Film Festival.

The Tibet Film Festival will take place on October 28-29 in Zurich and on October 29-30 2011 in Dharamsala. The festival is dedicated to Dhondup Wangchen who was detained shortly after completing filming on his documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind”. In a Chinese court on December 28, 2009, Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to six years in prison because of his filming activities. The production of “Leaving Fear Behind” was completed in Switzerland by “Filming for Tibet” and the film has been shown all over the world.

The submission forms for the Short Film Competition and more information about the Tibet Film Festival are on our website www.filmingfortibet.org

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