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China 20 October 2008

Monk who helped make Tibet documentary says he was tortured while in prison

Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that Jigme Gyatso, a Buddhist monk who was arrested for helping to make a documentary about Tibet, was released last week but the organisation is outraged that he was tortured during the seven months he was held.

“Yet again we have evidence that torture is still being used in Tibetan prisons,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Chinese authorities must provide an explanation for this disgraceful affair. Since the events of March, the government has prevented the dissemination of any reports about the situation in Tibet and many dissidents have been arrested. A climate of fear has taken hold in the towns and around the monasteries.”

Jigme Gyatso assisted Dhondup Wangchen as a cameraman in making the documentary. They were arrested in March, shortly after they finished filming. Jigme Gyatso was released conditionally on 15 October from a prison in the city of Kachu, in Ganzu province.

According to Filming For Tibet, the Swiss-based company that produced the documentary, Jigme Gyatso has returned to Labrang Tashikyil monastery in Gansu province, but it is not yet clear if the charges against have been dropped. “He was told by the authorities that he will remain under observation and that his probation will last one year,” the production company said.

The Swiss producers also passed on his account of the brutal interrogations to which he was subjected after being arrested. “The interrogators beat him continuously and hanged him by his feet from the ceiling for hours and kept him tied for days on the interrogation chair,” they said.

Called Leaving Fear Behind (, the 25-minute documentary consists of a series of interview with Tibetans in the Amdo region in which they express their views on the Dalai Lama, the Olympic Games and Chinese legislation.

The documentary film maker, Dhondup Wangchen, is still detained in Ershilipu prison in Siling (Xining) Qinghai province eastern Tibet.

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