Confusion grows around missing Tibetan monk filmmaker
By Madeline Earp/CPJ Asia Senior Research Associate
Not unusually, an already confusing situation in Tibet just got worse. Twenty-seven Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule this month alone, according to Human Rights Watch. That's almost one a day. Against this chaotic backdrop, Chinese authorities have issued an arrest order for a missing monk who helped film a 2008 documentary about life in Tibet, according to his film company, Filming for Tibet.
CPJ supporters will know that we just honored self-taught Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen with an International Press Freedom Award, recognizing his courage documenting life under Chinese rule with full knowledge that he would face severe repercussions (he is serving a six-year jail term - you can join CPJ's petition for his release). So we've been following with concern the latest reports that his assistant on that project, the monk Jigme Gyatso, has been missing, reportedly detained, since September.
Even though four years have passed since the pair made the film, Jigme Gyatso has been under regular police surveillance, and detained repeatedly as a result of his involvement in the project. We announced the award on September 13. Jigme Gyatso disappeared seven days later. We didn't rule out a possible link.