Tibetan Activist Dhondup Wangchen to testify before United States Congress, during first visit to Washington DC

Tibetan video activist Dhondup Wangchen is visiting Washington, D.C. from February 9 to 15, 2018 to testify at a Hearing organized by the Congressional Executive Commission on China and will meet Congressional and Administration officials. The Hearing will take place on Wednesday, February 14 from 10am to 12pm in 301 Russell Senate Office Building. In addition to calling on the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he will also meet with Washington based NGOs as well as the Tibetan community.

Detained by Chinese authorities in Tibet in March 2008 for making the documentary film “Leaving Fear Behind” (in which ordinary Tibetans expressed their feelings about their situation in the light of the Beijing Olympics), 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. Dhondup was released at the end of his sentence in 2014, but continued to be deprived of his freedom.

After an arduous and risky escape from Tibet and China, he arrived in the United States on December 25, 2017, to be united with his wife and children in San Francisco, who escaped from Tibet before his arrest in 2008 and reached the United States in 2012.
Dhondup Wangchen became a face of 2008 and his courageous non-violent work earned recognition and support throughout the world, among civil society, parliaments and governments. Dhondup’s case was a priority for the United States government, and it has now been almost 10 years since he was first arrested. During his visit to Washington, D.C., he will be personally thanking many of the key actors who called on the Chinese authorities to end his unjust detention.

The International Campaign for Tibet and Zurich-based Filming for Tibet (which released the documentary “Leaving Fear Behind”) are organizing Dhondup Wangchen’s Washington, D.C. visit. For more information on the two organizations, visit and

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:


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.

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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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

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

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: ) or evasive statements such as claiming not to be able to hear well or not understanding the other person ( Video: )

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.”

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

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

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

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.

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]