Last month, Lhamo Tso travelled to Switzerland where she attended the third anniversary of the Tibetan Film Festival. The festival organisers have dedicated their annual event to Dhondup Wangchen and his work with the intention of encouraging the emergence of more Tibetan filmmakers in the years ahead. After speaking to the delegates during the Regional Meeting of European Tibet Support Groups in Nice, in the south of France, convened by International Tibet Network earlier this month, Lhamo Tso flew into London on 6th November where she was greeted by Frederick Hyde-Chambers and Philippa Carrick, Tibet Society's Chairman and Chief Executive.
At Tibet Society's invitation, Lhamo Tso met with British Foreign Office and government officials in London. She also had meetings with a number of Members of Parliament (MPs) at Westminster as well as Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) in Edinburgh. Lhamo Tso has called for their urgent support for the release of her husband and his medical treatment.
Dhondup was arrested on 26th March 2008 in eastern Tibet, and was subsequently tortured and imprisoned for making a Tibetan documentary film. He contracted Hepatitis B whilst in prison. On 28 December 2009, the Chinese authorities charged the Tibetan filmmaker with ‘inciting separatism' and ‘subversion of state power.' In his film, Dhondup travelled across the Tibetan plateau seeking ordinary Tibetans' views on the then 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Chinese policies in Tibet and the Tibetan people's devotion in His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
During her 16-day UK speaking-tour, Lhamo Tso spoke to over five hundred school children and teachers, Tibet supporters, defenders of human rights, independent filmmakers, businessmen and lawyer working for Ministry of Justice. She also met with nearly a hundred Tibetans living in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Bristol and London.
Lhamo Tso said that the Tibetans in Tibet do not enjoy freedoms of expression and thought. She said that her husband did not commit any crime that deserves a six-year sentence from the Chinese authorities in Tibet. The family's main concern is the health condition of Dhondup Wangchen. She said that the family's main wish is to secure proper medical treatment for Dhondup and his early release from prison.
After the film screening at a primary school in London, an eight-year old child remarked that the Chinese authorities' treatment of Dhondup Wangchen was ‘unfair' and ‘evil.'
On the eve of her departure to Switzerland for further engagements, Lhamo Tso was given a farewell dinner at the recently opened Kailash Momo Tibetan eatery in Woolwich after her final meeting with some forty Tibetans in the London Borough of Greenwich. The Borough is a major venue for London's 2012 Olympic Games, where 12 sporting events will be held including the basketball, artistic gymnastics, equestrian, shooting, trampolining and Paralympic archery.
Tenzin Dakpa, a local Tibetan in Woolwich, who co-hosted the final meeting with Lhamo Tso, paid a moving tribute to her. He said, ‘Lhamo Tso and Dhondup Wangchen's family have made a significant contribution to the Tibetan people's struggle. Dhondup Wangchen doesn't deserve to be in Chinese prison for simply making a documentary film that we have seen today. I have seen Dhondup's film many times now. Lhamo Tso is a real messenger of the Tibetan political prisoners in Tibet and we all should support her call for help.'
The local Tibetans assured Lhamo Tso that they would write to the Chinese Ambassador in the UK as well as the British Foreign Secretary with the further pledge to support the campaign of Dhondup Wangchen's release on medical parole.
Lhamo Tso was very appreciative of the support and solidarity that her family has received since Dhondup Wangchen's arrest from people around the world, who still continue to show their concerns about his health condition. She was also very touched by fellow Tibetans in the UK for showing their solidarity with her family and also giving her monetary gifts. She assured her compatriots that the gifts she received would be fully given to the families of Tibetan political prisoners in Tibet.
Whilst paying her gratitude to all those individuals and groups who hosted her during speaking-tour in England and Scotland, Lhamo Tso said, "I thank on behalf of my whole family to Tibet Society and their members for enabling a very motivating visit. Dhondup would be very inspired if he learned about the level of support for him in UK."
Lhamo Tso left for Zurich on 23rd November 2011.