Tibetan activist’s wife visits campus

April 18, 2012, 2:00 a.m.

Lhamo Tso, the wife of an imprisoned Tibetan filmmaker, stopped by Stanford Tuesday night as part of a three-week tour of California, seeking to raise awareness of her husband, Dhondup Wangchen, who is currently being held in China.

Stanford Friends for Tibet, in collaboration with the Bay Area-based Committee of 100 (C100) for Tibet, hosted Tso, who spoke to a small group of students, faculty and other guests at El Centro Chicano. The event including a screening of her husband’s documentary, “Leaving Fear Behind.”

“The film is about the plight of the Tibetan people,” Wangchen said in the documentary.

Wangchen collected over 108 interviews with Tibetans, who commented on the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the depletion of grazing land for nomads, the struggle for preservation of Tibetan culture and the lack of religious freedom due to the absence of the Dalai Lama from Tibet.

When Chinese officials received word of Wangchen’s documentary, he was arrested and sentenced to prison for six years without a fair trial, according to Tso. She said his crime was the filming of interviews that portrayed negative opinions of how China treats Tibet.

Wangchen remains imprisoned today and currently suffers from liver problems without access to medical attention, Tso said.

Jigme Yugay, secretary for C100’s Board of Directors, said that he was excited for the opportunity to hear Tso spread the word about Wangchen and Tibet to the Stanford community.

“I hope the audience will be able to understand a little bit more about the situation in Tibet,” Yugay said. “I think the film will speak for itself.”

Shortly after the screening of the film, Tso spoke with the help of a translator about how she has personally taken on the mission to speak about the injustice facing Tibet and the censorship many Tibetans face.

“On behalf of the people of Tibet who are in Tibet and cannot speak of this, I try to say as much as I can here,” Tso said.

Tenzin Tethong, chairman and executive director of C100, said that while Stanford Friends for Tibet has hosted multiple other events this past year, this one stood out for its unique opportunity to introduce the Stanford community to a living representative of the struggles faced by Tibet today.

“Most of the events at Stanford are often lectures by scholars, and it’s all quite academic or very general, but today we have somebody who represents what is happening in Tibet today,” Tethong said.

“It’s about a real person who is trying to survive without her husband, with children in India, and at the same time trying to find a way to get relief for her husband and other prisoners,” he added.

The event concluded with a short question-and-answer session and a call to action for members of the audience to sign a petition on Amnesty International’s website for the release of Wangchen.

Former president of Stanford Friends for Tibet and the first Tibetan American to win a Rhodes scholarship, Tenzin Seldon ’12, also a member of The Daily’s Board of Directors, said that she hopes to screen a film she made with Tso to highlight the issue of censorship in Tibet.

Seldon said the film is “small in scale but large in its message” and hopes it will further promote conversation of the Tibetan cause.


Ileana Najarro is the Managing Editor of News at The Stanford Daily. She previously worked as a News Desk Editor and Staff Writer.

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