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ACTIVISTS URGE CHINA FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF THE PANCHEN LAMA AND TIBETAN FILM MAKER DHONDUP WANGCHEN

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Friday April 20th, 2012

TIBETAN AND AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL ACTIVISTS URGE CHINA FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF THE PANCHEN LAMA AND TIBETAN FILM MAKER DHONDUP WANGCHEN

Contact: Giovanni Vassallo, 415-264-3264

(San Francisco, CA)-Amnesty International USA, the Tibetan Association of Northern California, the San Francisco Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, Students for a Free Tibet, and Bay Area Friends of Tibet, will join Lhamo Tso, wife of Tibetan film maker and political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen to present petitions calling for his release at the San Francisco Chinese Consulate on Wednesday April 25th 2:00pm.

April 25 marks the 23rd birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, once considered the world's youngest political prisoner. He and his family were kidnapped and disappeared by the Chinese government in 1995 after His Holiness the Dalai Lama invoked his centuries-old religious authority to recognize him as the 11th Panchen Lama, Tibet's second most-revered lama, when he was 6 years old.

The Panchen Lama bears part of the responsibility of identifying the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama and vice versa, an element that appears crucially pertinent to the Chinese government when it comes to maintaining their illegitimate territorial claim on Tibet.

Tibetans and human rights activists demand the release of His Holiness the Panchen Lama, the wrongfully-imprisoned Dhondup Wangchen, and all the thousands of Tibetan political prisoners whose only "crimes" are nonviolent peaceful expressions.
"After 17 years, the Panchen Lama is still nowhere to be found and we demand the Chinese leaders to provide evidence of his whereabouts," said Giovanni Vassallo, president of the Bay Area Friends of Tibet.
"Free my husband, Dhondup Wangchen, on medical grounds, now," said Lhamo Tso. "He did not commit any crimes," she added.

Activists will gather at the San Francisco Chinese Consulate (1450 Laguna Street, SF, 94115) at 1:30pm for a protest followed by a joint press conference featuring Lhamo Tso and leaders from the Tibetan community. At the close of the press conference Lhamo Tso will lead a small delegation to hand deliver hundreds of petitions and letters to the Consul General of the People's Republic of China.

Lhamo Tso is a tour de force, a young woman of extraordinary courage, campaigning tirelessly not only for her husband's release, but the hundreds of Tibetan political prisoners who have been detained for peacefully exercising their human rights. More information about her tour can be found at www.c100tibet.org.

Dhondup Wangchen was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to tell the real story about life for Tibetans in Tibet. With his assistant Golok Jigme, he spent 5 months travelling across Tibet to interview ordinary Tibetans on their views on the upcoming Beijing Olympics, Chinese policies in Tibet and the Dalai Lama. The footage was smuggled out of Tibet under extraordinary circumstances days before the March 2008 uprisings and made into the film Leaving Fear Behind. Just days later, the filmmakers were detained. Dhondup was held in a "black jail" for over two years and then convicted without independent legal representation.

WHAT: Protest and delivery of letters and petitions calling for the immediate release of the Panchen Lama, Dhondup Wangchen, and all Tibetan political prisoners
WHEN: Wednesday April 25th 1:30pm
WHERE: Chinese Consulate (1450 Laguna Street, SF, 94115)

The Tibetan Association of Northern California will also hold a candlelight vigil on April 25 evening at 7 PM at the downtown Berkeley BART station on Shattuck.

For more information go to: www.tanc.org or www.friends-of-tibet.org and www.amnestyusa.org

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Giovanni Vassallo | President | Bay Area Friends of Tibet
415-264-3264 | giovanni@friends-of-tibet.org
www.friends-of-tibet.org

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