Release Documentary Filmmaker from Chinese Prison

Target: Chinese President Hu Jintao

Goal: Free documentary filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen and drop subversion charges against him.

Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen is serving a six-year prison sentence for documenting Tibetan life under Chinese rule. The Chinese government is holding Wangchen and at least nine other Tibetan journalists on similar charges of subversion. Please sign this petition to protect free speech and demand that Wangchen be released and charges be dropped.

Between August 2007 and March 2008 Wangchen and his partner gathered interviews from 108 ordinary Tibetan individuals discussing the political situation leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. All participants spoke candidly, willingly, and were aware of why they were being interviewed, and where the footage would end up. During the same time that Wangchen was taking the completed tapes out of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, riots erupted and spread through Tibetan-majority areas of China. As part of the government response that followed, both Wangchen and his partner were detained on March 28, 2008.

According to the New York Times, Wangchen was held for several days in unofficial detention where Chinese security forces allegedly beat him and deprived him of food, water, and sleep. Wangchen was held incommunicado until April 2009 when he was permitted to meet with his lawyer. Not surprisingly, the lawyer later dropped Wangchen’s case after being ordered to do so by Chinese judicial authorities. In December 2009, Wangchen was sentenced to six years imprisonment for “subversion” following a secret trial. Wangchen has been denied the right to appeal his sentence and is not allowed access to a lawyer. He has contracted Hepatitis B and his health is failing.

Human rights activists believe that if Wangchen can get enough international attention he will be freed. It is hoped that one journalist being freed will lead to more. Please join numerous human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Front Line, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters without Borders, and the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy in protesting Wangchen’s arrest and demanding his freedom.


Dear President Jintao,

The 2008 arrest and 2009 sentence of filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen is unfounded, unethical, and inhuman. As part of his widely publicized and viewed documentary, Leaving Fear Behind, Wangchen interviewed willing Tibetans on their thoughts of the political situation leading up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. When Chinese officials arrested Wangchen he was beaten, starved, and deprived of sleep and legal representation. Please recognize the right to freedom of speech and expression by releasing Wangchen and dropping the ridiculous charge against him.

Officials at the detention center where Wangchen was originally detained reportedly abused him and deprived him of food, water, and sleep. For no apparent reason, besides inflicting mental warfare, Wangchen was held incommunicado for almost a year before briefly seeing a lawyer. Your administration has continued to interrupt the judicial process by threatening the livelihood of lawyers who attempt to council Wangchen. Wangchen reportedly faced trial during a secret hearing where he was sentenced to six years in prison for subversion. From the moment Chinese officials heard about the film to sentencing, there has not been one fair, humanitarian or legal action taken to define Wangchen’s crime.

In order to progress and innovate, you must listen to your citizens, conduct legal proceedings according to approved law, invite opposition, and reject cruelty. Please allow imprisoned journalist Dhondup Wangchen his freedom and drop charges against him.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: via Yahoo

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One Comment

  1. Robert Ortiz says:

    Free him now! Imprisoning him is absolutely Unnecessary and ludicrous!

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