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Lhamo Tso – an interview by Ewa Kedzierska

23 September 2008, Dharamsala


Dharamsala, 23 September 2008

Lhamo Tso, 34 years old, native Labrang Latri (Amdo), living in Dharamsala since 2 years with
four children.
Dhondup Wangchen, her husband, arrested on March 26th 2008 in Tong De (Amdo) for having
realised a documentary film ‚Leaving Fear Behind’ presenting testimonies of the Tibetans inside
Tibet. He was held in Ershilipu Detention Centre in Xining (Tib. Silling) for three months. From
there he was moved to unofficial detention in Gongshang Hotel in Xining. He was last seen in
Gongshang Hotel on or about July 12th 2008. He is still under arrest incommunicado, so far there
has been no trial conducted.

Ewa Kedzierska: – Lhamo Tso la, we all saw the film by your husband, a precious testimony from
inside Tibet, that he could smuggle abroad before he got arrested. What exactly happened ?
Lhamo Tso: – Dondhup Wangchen la was involved in the resistance for long time before (he was
arrested three time on a doubt bases and than released) but I never knew much about his activities.
It came out only when he got arrested on Mars 26th. His relative from Switzerland (Gyaljong
Tsetrin) called me asking whether I agreed for the film being released. When I saw the film, there
were 108 people who spoke up for Tibet, they shared their opinion on the Olympics and His
Holiness’ return to Tibet. My husband risked his life to make this film, I thought, he has 70 years
old parents and four children, and still this person is asking me for its release! On the personal
ground I felt that it was not safe for my husband to release it, but I realised that he and another
hundred people did not risked their lives for the personal interest, but for the general one. It was my
husband wish to release this movie, so I gave my agreement. There are 35 hours of the recording
but the film is only 25 minutes.

E.K.:- Why were you here in India when your husband got arrested?
L.T.:- Only after these events I could understand the reason why he sent me and our children to
India. He wanted us to be safe, he was aware of the fact that he will be arrested sooner or later.
While we were in India, he visited us only once and went back to Tibet. He said he had some work
in Tibet and he was not sure when he would come back but that I had to take care about his parents
and children. To his parents he told that he is going for business.

E.K.:- Why do you think Dondhup Wangchen la took such a risk?


L.T.:- He always believed that it is the responsibility of every Tibetan to work for their country, and
not only the responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

E.K.:- Were you unhappy in Tibet? What’s going on there?


L.T.: – My husband is a very kind person and popular with everybody and loved by all. But he
hated the Chinese for the way they treat Tibetan as second class citizen in their own country. There
is no freedom of education for the children they have to learn Chinese, to get a job and even then
getting a job is not easy you have to bribe them. In school, the Tibetan language is taught but the
rest of the subjects are in Chinese. Treatments similar to the one I mentioned above and the lack of
freedom made my husband and me unhappy in Tibet
E.K.: – What about the religious practice?
L.T: – Here is an example from my experience. When you go to a school for admission, the child is
asked whether he/she wants to be a communist or not. If the answer is YES – he/she is totally
restricted from religious practices, but in return he/she will be given special privileges and
promotions. But if the answer is NO – than he/she can freely go to gonpa (monastery), but will not
receive any support from the government.

E.K.: – One day before the end of the Olympics you wrote a letter to Mr. Jacques Rogge, the
President of the Olympic Committee, requesting him to use his influence on the Chinese to free
your husband. Did you ever receive any answer?
L.T.: – Not at all.

E.K. – You have four children. How old are they and how do they take what has happened?
L.T.. – They are: 16,12,10,8 years old. They know where their father is and are worry about him.
But they also try to consol me, like when my youngest daughter, while seeing me crying in the
evening, asked me: ‚-Why are you crying mom, may be you are thinking that the Chinese will kill
our father?’, the elder immediately replied: – Don’t even say such words, he will come back soon’.
I am telling my kids: ‚- See, now your father has done such a thing for the country, and His Holiness
is working for this Middle Way approach, so the responsibility of you kids is to study well, because
if not, people may say, see, the father is good and the kids are useless, and when the kids ask for
something else, like good food, I tell them, we should be happy to have this, you don’t know
whether your father is having food at all or what he is going through. So you have to think like good
children.

E.K.: – Do you regret what your husband did? Do you believe he will come back?
L.T.: – No, I do not regret what he has done. My husband was always saying: ‚See, His Holiness is
going all around the world begging every head of the states to help resolve the Tibet issue, so it is
our responsibility too to contribute in his efforts. So I am glad for what he has done for his country,
I am proud of him indeed. Personally of course, I need a father for my children and my life is now a
permanent struggle. To earn my life I am selling bread. I have to wake up at 1:00 AM to make it and
I sell it at around 6:00 AM in the morning. But still I am happy about what he has done for the
country! It is not the only responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama; my husband has just done
his job.

E.K.: – What you have to say to our EU governments to motivate them to obtain from the Chinese
the release of your husband?
L.T.: – If I ask to release my husband it will be very selfish of me, as there are many others who are
imprisoned and tortured for no reason. They are not criminals; they only wanted the world to know
the truth. So I would like the world to help not only my husband but all of them, all of those
imprisoned without reason.

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