San Francisco, 27 December: Tibetan video activist Dhondup Wangchen arrived to safety in San Francisco on the afternoon of 25 December, after an arduous and risky escape from Tibet and the People’s Republic of China.

A clearly tired but relieved Dhondup Wangchen, 43, said on arrival, “After many years, this is the first time I’m enjoying the feeling of safety and freedom. I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me to hold my wife and children in my arms again. However, I also feel the pain of having left behind my country, Tibet.”

Dhondup Wangchen will address the media fully in due course.

“Dhondup Wangchen is a courageous individual who never gave up his beliefs in basic human rights and freedoms. He felt he had no choice but to flee Tibet which was an extremely risky and dangerous escape. The fact is that he should never have been detained, imprisoned and tortured by China for filming and giving air to Tibetan grievances. Now he’s finally free to speak out”, said Wangpo Tethong, spokesperson from Filming for Tibet.

Detained by Chinese authorities in Tibet in March 2008 for making the documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind”, Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting subversion”. His friend and assistant, Tibetan monk Golok Jigme, suffered from detention and torture, too. “Leaving Fear Behind” was released worldwide by Zurich-based Filming for Tibet lead by Dhondup Wangchen’s cousin, Gyaljong Tsetrin.

Dhondup Wangchen’s arrest and imprisonment sparked one of the most intensive campaigns for a Tibetan activist. He contracted Hepatitis B in prison and was made to undergo manual labour. Even though he was released from a prison in Qinghai’s provincial capital Xining on June 5, 2014, he remained under strict surveillance with his movements and communications constantly monitored. Dhondup Wangchen was able to successfully evade the authorities and flee from his home area in Tibet and then the People’s Republic of China altogether.

From left to right: Tenzin Norbu, Tenzin Dadon, Lhamo Tso, Dhondup Wangchen, Lhamo Dolma, Tashi Tsering in San Francisco on 26 December, 2017. From left to right: Tenzin Norbu, Tenzin Dadon, Lhamo Tso, Dhondup Wangchen, Lhamo Dolma, Tashi Tsering in San Francisco on 26 December, 2017.


After many years of tireless campaigning for her husband, Dhondup Wangchen’s wife Lhamo Tso and their children were granted political asylum in USA in 2012. Golok Jigme was able to escape from Tibet, reaching the Tibetan Reception Centre in Dharamsala, India in May 2014. He was granted political asylum in Switzerland in 2015.

Dhondup Wangchen’s journey to safety has taken over ten years and Filming for Tibet would like to acknowledge the help and support of numerous private individuals, artists, groups, organisations and governments along the way. Dhondup Wangchen was recipient of the Committee to Protect Journalists International Press Freedom Award in 2012 and the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent in 2014.


Wangpo Tethong (English, German): +1 415 802 7216
Dechen Pemba (English): + 44 20 3286 5186
Gyaljong Tsetrin (Tibetan): + 41 76 462 67 68

Media enquiries:

Pema Tseden

by Filming for Tibet

We are shocked to hear that on Saturday 25 June 2016, internationally acclaimed award-winning filmmaker Pema Tseden was forcefully arrested by police at Xining Airport, Qinghai, China. Pema Tseden was treated harshly and sustained injuries, in addition to high blood pressure. He was admitted to hospital on the afternoon of June 27th. As of now, his exact status in unclear, but reports state he is still in custody.

In an altercation at the airport pertaining to missing luggage, Pema was arbitrarily arrested on charges of disturbing public order, but there have been no official statements made or clarifications on the nature of the laws broken by him. Tibetan netizens inside Tibet and abroad only received news of his arrest today June 29, four days later.

We thank the Film Directors Guild of China for publicly showing their concern and applaud their call for a swift resolution of this unfortunate situation.

At Filming for Tibet we believe in the power of films to tell stories and Pema Tseden is one of the foremost Tibetan storytellers who has received recognition and respect both domestically as well as internationally in the global film fraternity. He is one of Tibet’s most well-known, authentic, and creative filmmakers. We have had the honour to screen his films The Search, Silent Holy Stones and Old Dog at Tibet Film Festival both in Zurich, Switzerland and Dharamshala, India over the years. Pema Tseden’s films represent a refreshing new voice that gives nuanced commentary on contemporary Tibet and China. Voices such as his need to be nurtured, encouraged and protected.

We at Filming for Tibet strongly deplore the arrest and detention of Pema Tseden, and demand that he be released and that the provincial authorities investigate this upsetting incident of police encroachment.

Filming for Tibet
Zurich, Switzerland  &  Dharamshala, India


The theme for this year’s short film competition is “Food”, and we are curious and excited to see how our filmmakers will treat this subject.
The winners of the Jury Prizes and the Audience Prizes will be awarded with THE YAK PRIZE, a sculpture made by Tibetan artist Thubten Purang and 500/300/200 USD (Jury Prizes) and USD 200 (Audience Prize Dharamsala and Zurich).

For the submission rules check here:  The general eligibility requirements!

Zurich/Dharamsala – The organisers of the Tibet Film Festival are proud and very happy to announce that the Tibet Film Festival 2016 will be held in Zurich on 16 and 17 September 2016 and in Dharamsala on 17 and 18 September 2016.

The cornerstone of this year’s festival will be films from Tibet and new productions by Tibetan filmmakers in exile. We very much look forward to seeing many great entries for our short film competition and take this opportunity to encourage all Tibetan filmmakers to take part in this segment of the festival. In previous years, the short film competition has had tremendous response and support from young, aspiring and established Tibetan filmmakers.

The theme for this year’s short film competition is “Food”, and we are curious and excited to see how our filmmakers will treat this subject. 

For more information see here our official announcement.



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.

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: ;

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.

family_speakting_to_Dhondup Wife and children speaking to Dhondup Wangchen at the day of his release, 5 June 2014


To all our friends and supporters in the world,

I would like to inform you that Dhondup Wangchen, after his release on 5 June 2014, first went to his home village in Qinghai province and then to Labrang (Gansu Province) to settle various administrative matters regarding his residential papers. At the moment, he focuses to regain his health and is seeking effective medical treatment. It seems that there are some
restrictions on his movements. He is required to inform and seek permission from the local authorities.

I, at the moment, do not have more information to share about his present situation and would like to express my deepest gratitude for your support and sympathy on behalf of Dhondup Wangchen and the entire family. We hope that you will continue to show concern for his recovery and reunion with his family.

Gyaljong Tsetrin
Zurich, 14 July 2014

༄༅།། འཛམ་གླིང་ས་ཕྱོགས་གང་སར་གནས་པའི་ལྷག་བསམ་དཀར་བོའི་འབྲེལ་ཡོད་རྣམ་པ་ཚང་མ་ལ་ཞུས་རྒྱུར། དོན་འགྲུབ་དབང་ཆེན་ཕྱི་ལོ ༢༠༡༤ ཟླ ༦ ཚེས ༥ ཉིན་གློད་གྲོལ་བྱུང་ཡོད། ཐོག་མ་ཁོང་ནང་ལ་སླེབས་ཡོད་པ་དང་ད་ལྟ་བླ་བྲང་ལ་སོང་ནས་ཁོང་གི་ཐོབ་ལག་འཁྱེར་དང་ཁྱིམ་ཐོ་སོགས་ཡིག་ཆ་ཁག་གཅིག་གྲ་བསྒྲིགས་བྱེད་དུ་སོང་ཡོད། དེ་ནས་རིམ་པའི་ཁོང་གི་འཕྲོད་བསྟེན་ཡག་པོ་མེད་པ་དང་གཟུགས་པོ་རྟགས་དཔྱད་བྱེད་རྒྱུ་སོགས་སྨན་བཅོས་ཡག་པོ་ཞིག་བྱེད་ཐུབ་པ་ལ་འབད་པ་ཞུས་བཞིན་འདུག ཡར་མར་འགྲོ་འདུག་བསྟབས་བདེ་ཧ་ཀྱང་ཡོད་ས་མ་རེད། གང་ལགས་ཞུས་ན་གང་དུ་འགྲོ་ནའང་འབྲེལ་ཡོད་སྡེ་ཚན་ལ་ཞུས་དགོས་འདུག དེ་རིང་ཞུས་ཡ་དེ་ཙམ་ལས་མེད།
དེ་མིན་ཞུས་རྒྱུ་ཞིག་ལ་རྣམ་པ་ཚོ་ཚང་མའི་ཁོང་གི་ཕྱོགས་ལ་དོ་སྣང་དང་ཐུགས་ཁུར་བརྒྱ་བསྐྱོར་གནང་པ་ལ་གུས་པས་སྙིང་ཐག་ནས་དོན་དབང་དང་ང་ཚོ་ནང་མི་ཚང་མའི་ཚབ་བྱས་ནས་བཀའ་དྲིན་ཆེ་ཞུས་རྒྱུ་ཡིན་པ་མ་ཟད། ད་དུང་ཁོང་གི་གཟུགས་པོ་འཕྲོད་བསྟན་དང་ནང་མི་མྱུར་དུ་ལྷན་འཛོམས་ཡོང་ཡ་ལ་ཐུགས་ཁུར་གནང་རོགས་ཞེས་ཞུས་བཞིན་ཡོད།

ཕྱི་ལོ ༢༠༡༤ ཟླ ༧ ཚེས ༡༤ ཉིན།

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


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: ;
(2) Xichuan Labor Camp on Google Map:
(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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His Holiness the Dalai Lama receives Golog Jigme shortly after his safe arrive in Dharamsala.

Golog_Jigme_vot Golog Jigme Gyatso in Dharamsala, 19 May 2014.

Filming for Tibet is happy to share the amazing news of Golog Jigme’s safe arrival in Dharamsala, India. Gyaljong Tsetrin, president of Filming for Tibet, has spoken to him and is relieved that Golog Jigme was able to escape from Tibet, finally reaching the Tibetan Reception Centre in Dharamsala on May 18, 2014.

Golog Jigme, aka Jigme Gyatso, was jailed 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.

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

More information to follow soon.