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Tibetan filmmaker arrives in San Francisco under political asylum

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A Tibetan filmmaker, Dhondup Wangchen, arrived in San Francisco under U.S. political asylum on December 25 after six years in jail and three years under police surveillance, the New York Times reports (paywall).

  • Wangchen is from and had been jailed in Qinghai Province, which borders the Tibet Autonomous Region and “is considered by many Tibetans as part of greater Tibet,” Reuters says.
  • The short documentary that got him in trouble, in which he speaks with disaffected Tibetans ahead of the 2008 Olympics, is titled Leaving Fear Behind and can be viewed here.
  • During his detention and imprisonment, he was “tortured and otherwise ill-treated, held for about six months in solitary confinement, and denied medical treatment,” according to Amnesty International.
  • Wangchen was reunited with his wife and kids in San Francisco, and Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. congresswoman whose district includes the city, tweeted: “It is my honor to welcome Tibetan Filmmaker & former Chinese political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen to our San Francisco community. My thoughts are with him as he is once again united with his wife & children in freedom after so many years.”

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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.