Human Rights Watch Urges China to Ensure Fair Trial for Tibetan Filmmaker[Tuesday, 4 August 2009, 12:06 p.m.]Human Rights Watch called on the Chinese government to ensure that Dhondup Wangchen’s trial met international fair-trial standards, including the right against self-incrimination, the exclusion of evidence obtained under torture or other mistreatment, and the right to be represented by a counsel of one’s own choice.
|Dhondup Wangchen/File photo|
Dharamshala: Human Rights Watch based in New York has urged the Chinese government to ensure an open and fair trial for Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan filmmaker arrested in March 2008, and said that he must be represented by the counsel of his choice.Dhondup Wangchen, aged 35, was arrested with his monk assistant named Jigme Gyatso for making the film “Leaving Fear Behind” in Tibet between October 2007 – March 2008, which documents the lives of Tibetans under China’s rule, views about His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Beijing Olympics. Wangchen was arrested on 26 March 2008, in Gepa Sumdo county (Ch:Tongde) near Siling.Jigme Gyatso was released on bail seven months later, on 15 October 2008, and reported that he had been tortured in detention. Several other people involved with or appearing in the documentary have also been investigated by the authorities.Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a statement issued 3 August said the judicial authorities in Siling (Ch: Xining, incorporated into China’s Qinghai Province) provided no justification when it arbitrarily replaced the lawyer chosen by Wangchen, Li Dunyong, with a government-appointed lawyer last month.“This was in violation of China’s criminal procedure law and its obligations under international human rights law, which guarantee criminal defendants the right to choose their own defense counsel and to meet with their counsel while in detention,” HRW said.Wangchen’s lawyer, Li Dunyong reported that his client had been tortured in order to extract a confession and that some of the injuries he sustained as a result were still painful a year later. During that discussion Wangchen stated that he intended to plead not guilty and had admitted no wrongdoing during his 16 months in detention.“A verdict against Dhondup Wangchen under the present circumstances will have no legitimacy whatsoever,” said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Wangchen must be represented by a lawyer he chose, in an open trial where the evidence against him can be challenged and witnesses can be cross-examined, as required by international fair-trial standards,” Richardson added.Richardson further said: “Dhondup Wangchen should either be given a fair trial or he should be released.” “Violating due process to ensure a conviction will only further damage respect for the judiciary in China.”Related:Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile calls on UN to help release of arrested Tibetan filmmaker