(By Tsering Passang, London)
Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan filmmaker and former political prisoner, is currently travelling from Riga, capital of Latvia, to Vilnius in Lithuania, on a bus-ride. He is accompanied by Wangpo Tethong, a former Tibetan MP and the new Executive Director of the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) Europe.
Starting on 17th November 2021 from France, Dhondup Wangchen will soon end his three-month Europe Tour for Tibet on 10th February 2022 in Switzerland. Wangchen has been meeting and interacting with so many parliamentarians, government officials, journalists, media houses as well as individuals during his campaign tour to advocate for the Tibetan people as well as other persecuted communities in China despite the rising COVID situations across Europe.
Wangchen’s Baltic trip is the last leg of his planned Europe Tour, ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games. As his Europe Tour is soon coming to an end, Wangchen calls for action: “Wear Tibetan “Rangzen Bracelets” during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games. The former Tibetan political prisoner is very clear in his message – “Don’t forget us Tibetans! Don’t forget Tibet!”
Tibetans and rights groups label the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games as the #GenocideGames.
When Wangchen wraps up the 15-countries Europe Tour next month, organisers in Switzerland will screen his documentary ‘Leaving Fear Behind’ once again.
Dhondup Wangchen was arrested and imprisoned by the Chinese authorities for making his documentary film in 2008. In his documentary, Wangchen was simply seeking the views of Tibetans in China’s occupied Tibet about their love for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and what the 2008 Beijing Olympics meant for them.
After serving over 6 years in Chinese prisons and further house arrest, Dhondup Wangchen escaped into exile in December 2017. He was granted political asylum in the US where he reunited with his family.
Wangpo Tethong, who is accompanying Dhondup Wangchen to the Baltics States, says that the former Tibetan political prisoner “is a tireless campaigner who inspires the folks around him.” Tethong further adds that Wangchen is “an authentic and talented storyteller” who “connects easily with all people” he comes across.
Noting the change of the international community’s attitude towards China, Tethong said, “Media and governments are ready to listen”. According to the former Tibetan MP, some countries in Europe announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games after Dhondup Wangchen’s visit to the European countries. He said that the former Tibetan political prisoner’s “story may have well contributed to this success”.
At least 15 countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Japan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Scotland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States have announced the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games.
Diplomatic boycott by these leading democracies is great news for Tibetans and rights groups around the world who have been campaigning for the boycott of Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games. It is already a success even before the #GenocidesGames started. Tibetans and rights groups worldwide are staging further protests on 3rd February, as part of the Global Day of Action, to highlight the Chinese regime’s ongoing violations of human rights and Uyghur genocide.
Initiated by Switzerland-based Filming for Tibet, Dhondup Wangchen’s Europe Tour was coordinated by the International Tibet Network. His tour received amazing support from many Tibetan communities in Europe and campaigning groups including, the ICT Europe, Tibetan Youth Association in Europe and Students for a Free Tibet.
(All photos taken from Wangpo Tethong’s Facebook.)
Dhondup Wangchen’s Appeal: “The promises made by China for the 2008 Olympics have all been broken and have taken many innocent lives. People had to go through all sorts of hardships, it is our responsibility to make sure that such mistakes aren’t repeated. It’s crystal clear that people under repressive Communist Chinese rule don’t even have the right to express their views. Doing so might cost their lives. I had to face much danger to reach safety and to be able to speak out. So, my dear friends, I request each one of you to support me and make an oath. Thank you.”