NEWS UPDATE: Jigme Gyatso/Golog Jigme has escaped Tibet after more than 18-months in hiding. He arrived at Dharamsala Tibetan Reception Center to a hero’s welcome on 19 May 2014. More information will be posted shortly.
Jigme Gyatso, also known as Golog Jigme, is a Buddhist monk and human rights activist who worked on the the film “Leaving Fear Behind” with Tibetan film-maker and political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen. The powerful 25-minute documentary consists of interviews with 108 ordinary Tibetans and had a secret screening in Beijing on the opening day of the Olympic Games in 2008 before being shown throughout the world. Jigme Gyatso was immediately arrested, sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment, then beaten and tortured. He was released in October 2008. Dhondup Wangchen is expected to be released on 4 June 2014 after serving more than six-years in prison for making and releasing the film.
On 28 November 2012, the Public Security Bureau of Gansu Province issued an arrest warrant for Jigme Gyatso for alleged murder charges. The arrest warrant and large cash reward announcement was distributed via text message and local Tibetans have been repeatedly urged to contact the Public Security Bureau with information about Golog Jigme’s whereabouts.
Jigme Gyatso (also known as Golog Jigme), a Tibetan monk at Labrang monastery, was born in 1969 in the village of Ragtham in Golog Serthar (Chinese: Seda), eastern Tibet. He is well-known as a social activist, teaching children about Tibetan culture, advocating for Tibetan language, and assisting in relief efforts after a magnitute 4.9 earthquake struck Yushu, Kham, in April 2010.
In 2007/08, Jigme Gyatso assisted Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen in the filming of ‘Leaving Fear Behind’, a powerful documentary film featuring interviews with ordinary Tibetan people speaking about China as hosts of the 2008 Olympics, discussing the erosion of Tibetan language, the sinification of their culture, praising the Dalai Lama, and expressing their grievances with the flood of ethnic Han migrants. Despite the great risks involved with appearing on camera, all 108 Tibetans interviewed chose to have their faces shown in the interviews. 20 of these interviews appear in the film, as well as a self-shot segment with Dhondup Wangchen. The resulting film was described by The New York Times as “an unadorned indictment of the Chinese government”. It was compiled from 40 hours of interview footage shot with a single camera. The documentary premiered on the opening day of the Olympics and was clandestinely screened for foreign reporters in Beijing.
The film footage was just smuggled out of Tibet as mass protests across Tibet erupted. Both Jigme Gyatso and Dhondup Wangchen were detained on 28 March 2008. Dhondup Wangchen was charged with “subversion” in a secret trial and given a 6 year prison sentence. He is currently imprisoned and suffering from Hepatitis B while being refused medical treatment. Golog Jigme was released in October 2008 at which point it was learned that he and Dhondup had both undergone severe interrogations and torture in detention that included electrocution.
Golog Jigme went “missing” on 20 September 2012 when he travelled from Labrang monastery to Tsoe in Kanlho, north-eastern Tibet. Sources in exile reported he disappeared while en route home, after traveling to the Gansu provincial capital Lanzhou for “personal reasons”.