Australia Tibet Council

Enabling everyone in Australia to be part of change in Tibet

A family waits to reunite with their son, an ex-political prisoner

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Dorjee Tso and Dorjee Tsering are two new Tibetan refugees recently settled in Australia. In their late 70s, their only wish is to see their son Dhondup Wangchen, a man who sacrificed his personal safety to tell the truth about what is happening in his country.

Dhondup Wangchen was an ordinary young Tibetan from Amdo in eastern Tibet. Knowing that the world’s eyes were on China in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he travelled to towns across Tibet with a video camera to interview Tibetans. The result was Leaving Fear Behind, a documentary film in which Tibetans, perhaps for the first time, came on camera to openly express their views about the impact of Chinese policies on their lives.

The Chinese government imprisoned Dhondup Wangchen for six years for making this film. Although released in 2014, he has remained under the close watch of the Chinese authorities.

Dhondup Wangchen’s family have found safety in their adopted countries - his wife and four children in the US and his aged parents and two of his brothers in Australia. But he remains separated from his family for over a decade.

Here at Australia Tibet Council, campaigning for the rights of political prisoners and their families is an important part of our work. Nothing is more powerful than telling the personal stories of Tibetans separated from their loved ones as a result of China’s occupation of their homeland.

This week, we travelled to Canberra with Dorjee Tso, Dorjee Tsering and Pema Rabten, the parents and brother of Dhondup Wangchen, to share their story.

Here are pictures of our meetings in Parliament House with Chris Crewther MP (Liberal), chair of the parliamentary sub-committee on foreign affairs; Jason Falinski MP, local member of the Tibetan community in Sydney's Nothern Beaches; Josh Wilson MP (Labor); Senator Lisa Singh (Labor); Michael Danby MP (Labor), co-chair of the Australian All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet; and Greens Senators Scott Ludlam and Janet Rice.