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)

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


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

- 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

Press Release English
Press Release German

Thank you to Ken Loach for sending us this message of support!

“The action by the Chinese authorities against Dhondup Wangchen is an affront to the principle of freedom of expression. A healthy society is one that thrives on dissent and the peaceful resolution of conflicting views. Dhondup Wangchen’s ‘crime’ is to allow voices to be heard who were otherwise silenced. That is precisely the responsibility of writers and film makers. By its suppression of brave people like Dhondup Wangchen, China continues to lose face in the world.”