DHARAMSHALA: Chinese authorities have detained award winning Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden, known for films such as Tharlo and Old Dog, for what Chinese police said was a dispute over baggage at a local airport in Qinghai.
He is currently receiving treatment in a hospital in the western Chinese city of Xining after “suffering serious injury” while in police detention. He remains in police custody even though he is receiving treatment in the hospital.
According to a statement posted by Gu Chu Sum, “The police interrogated Pema Tseden for the whole night and on the early morning of June 26, forcibly took him to a nearby detention facility and detained him for the reason of disturbing public order. On June 27, during his detention, Pema Tseden had been having vertigo, chest congestion, finger numbness, etc and was later sent to hospital where he is currently receiving medical treatment and further observation.”
Although the reason cited by Chinese police for Pema Tseden’s detention was dispute over baggage, there are speculations that the incident occurred due to Chinese authorities’ overreaction because of his Tibetan ethnicity.
“Pema Tseden … is just as vulnerable as every other Tibetan to police brutality and being treated as a second class citizen in his own country,” Tibet advocacy group Free Tibet’s Director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said in a statement on Wednesday. “The police know that they can beat, abuse and detain Tibetans at will and with almost total impunity.”
“What’s happened to Pema Tseden can and does happen anywhere and any time to Tibetans in Tibet,” she said, calling on the authorities to ensure that Pema Tseden receives the medical treatment he needs, and pursue those responsible for his abuse.
“Abuse and discrimination against Tibetans is embedded in the culture of China’s security forces and this deplorable incident will only have further fueled Tibetan anger against Chinese rule,” she said.
A son of Tibetan nomads, Pema Tseden is a renowned award winning Tibetan filmmaker who was born in 1969 at Gade County, Qinghai Province. He studied at the Beijing Film Academy and made his cinematic debut with The Silent Holy Stones, the first feature film to be made entirely in Tibetan.