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7jnaury20104Dharamshala: A Tibetan journalists' group, the Association of Tibetan Journalists (ATJ), based in Dharamshala, today released a statement that condemns the secret sentence held by the so-called Xining Chinese People’s Court in the province of Qinghai for 35-year-old moviemaker Dhondup Wangchen, who was sentenced to six years in prison on December 28, 2009, for the crime of “splitting the motherland,” an offence supposedly stemming from his documentary “Leaving Fear Behind”.

The statement said that the ATJ condemns the sentencing of Tibetan filmmaker, Wangchen, who was jailed by initially in March 2008 for documenting the Tibetan people’s dissatisfaction for China’s policies, as well as its current situation inside Tibet and the Tibetan people’s call for the return of the exiled Tibetan leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Wangchen reportedly is suffering from hepatitis B and is not receiving proper treatment while in prison. Li Dunyong, a Chinese lawyer hired by the family to defend Wangchen, was forced to drop the case. Therefore the journalists' group said it "questions the legitimacy of the court verdict and doubts if Wangchen was entitled to a fair trial in light of the fact that it was the Chinese government’s decision to replace Wangchen’s family-appointed lawyer with a government-appointed lawyer from Xining.

"The statement demands retrial for Wangchen with the international standard of the judicial system,” said the ATJ. “It should allow him to further appeal to the higher court and be represented by an independent lawyer and for a transparent trial."

Over the years, China has targeted, detained and sentenced Tibetan writers, photographers, bloggers and publishers who sought to explore and express Tibetan views on issues that affect Tibetan people's rights, culture, religion and the region’s fragile environment. The condemning statement also points out that the “Chinese court also has sentenced a young Tibetan writer named Kunga Tsangyang, or Gangnyi, to five years imprisonment on charges of ‘splittist’ activities through his writings."

In the statement, ATJ urged the Chinese authorities to look into the matter in accordance with the PRC’s own constitutional laws. The statement concluded: “Free Dhondup Wangchen, Kunga Tsangyang, Konchok Tsephel (Chomey website proprietor), Dolma Kyab and other [such ‘offenders’] unconditionally.”

In a further remark by ATJ, Tashi Wangchuk, the ATJ president, said, "If China is true to its words in its claim that there is stability and prosperity in Tibet, it should let us visit Tibet and witness the situation in Tibet by ourselves."

Was this reaction by the Chinese the preemptive response in light of President Hu's new Harmony Society, his latest societal assertion that is supposed to be a clear defense for the free flow of information?

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