China: Arrest of human rights defender Mr Jigme Gyatso, and detention of human rights defender Mr Dhondup Wangchen

Posted on 2009/03/23
Jigme Gyatso

Front Line is seriously concerned following reports that human rights defender, Mr Jigme Gyatso, was arrested again on 10 March 2009, after his release on 15 October 2008, and that another human rights defender, Mr Dhondup Wangchen, has been in detention since 26 March 2008.

Further Information

Jigme Gyatso, also known as Golog Jigme, is a monk of Amdo Labrang Monastery. He assisted Dhondup Wangchen in the making of the documentary film, Leaving Fear Behind which was completed in March 2008. Leaving Fear Behind aimed to show the opinions of the Tibetan people about the Dalai Lama, the policies of China regarding Tibet, and the Olympic Games.

On 10 March 2009, at approximately 4 a.m., Jigme Gyatso was arrested by members of the Sangchu Public Security Bureau (PSB) at his home in Sangchu County, Kanlho, “Tibet Autonomous Prefecture”, Gansu Province. The members of the Sangchu County PSB took Jigme Gyatso from his room and gave no explanation for the arrest. Jigme Gyatso's current whereabouts are unknown.

He had previously been arrested in March 2008, when Leaving Fear Behind was distributed outside China and protests against Chinese rule ensued in Lhasa and later in other regions of Tibet. He was held in Kachu Detention Centre, Gansu Province, where he was severely tortured. He was interrogated, beaten continually, hanged by his feet from the ceiling for hours at a time and tied to an interrogation chair for days. He fainted several times due to the beatings. On 15 October 2008 he was released. The authorities informed him that he would remain under observance and on probation for a year.

Dhondup Wangchen was arrested on 26 March 2008 by the Chinese authorities in Tong De, Qinghai Province. He was detained for three months in Ershilipu Detention Centre, Xining City, before being taken to Gongshang Hotel in July 2008. He has not been seen since but it is believed that he is still in detention in a secret prison.

Front Line believes that the arrest of Jigme Gyatso, and the continued detention of Dhondup Wangchen, are directly related to their legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights. Front Line is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Jigme Gyatso and Dhondup Wangchen.