Golog Jigme, Tibetan monk and human rights activist jailed and tortured by China for making 2008 documentary “Leaving Fear Behind,” addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks.
On being tortured:
“It isn’t possible to share all the torture I was subjected to due to the time limit. When I was put on the iron chair it was horrible – beyond what a human being can imagine.”
“When Chinese authorities put me in the prison I was ready to go to jail and spend my life in jail but I learned that when Chinese authorities put me in prison they were planning to kill me.”
“I felt like all my organs, my lungs, and liver were coming out from my mouth.”
“I suffered a lot but despite lots of torture and hardship I was subjected to go through, today when I look back to the most painful part of my life I am overjoyed and I take pride in what I did for the right cause. I haven’t revealed the identity of a single Tibetan who has courageously spoken out.”
On the need for the international community to take action on Tibet:
“If the situation in Tibet is not addressed as soon as possible, the universality of human rights is under threat.”
“We cannot fail to protect the universality of human rights and trade human rights for economic gains and deny that every human being needs basic human rights. The time has come to protect and work together to protect the universality of human rights.”
Thank you Geneva Summit organizers for giving me the opportunity to be here once again. So I consider this a special day. I consider today our special day because this Summit dedicated to bringing human rights heroes from across the globe is entering into the tenth anniversary. At the same time I wanted to remind you all here that this year, 2018, marks the 10th anniversary of 2008 widespread protests across the Tibet. So this Summit dedicated to promote and protect human rights defenders is turning 10 years. That’s why I consider this very special year, so I’m very happy to be here.
In such a unique platform and important and historic year to observe, I wish my friend Dhondup Wangchen with whom I made the documentary film and who has thankfully been able to escape from Tibet few months ago could have been here today. But due to some reasons he couldn’t join us this time. So thank you very much once again for giving me the opportunity.
I am Golog Jigme, I am a human rights activist and a documentary filmmaker. As I mentioned my friend and I made a film called “Leaving Fear Behind”. The reason behind making the documentary film was that China is propagating lies for the international community, they tell lies. When China was preparing for 2008 Beijing Olympic, China intensified its propaganda and lies that human rights are respected, Tibetans are happy, and China propagates lies and Tibetans and those minorities under China were repressed and severely cracked down on – all the human rights defenders. Therefore we felt it is very important to expose the repression inside Tibet, to inform the international community about the true situation inside Tibet. China claims that China has brought lots of development in Tibet, happiness in Tibet, that’s what China claims. But people inside Tibet are deprived, are denied of human rights. Tibetans are not free and enjoy freedom of expression. That’s why we made the documentary, to expose the true situation inside Tibet. So in the film there is no freedom of expression, environmental protection rights, religious freedom inside Tibet, therefore to expose the true situation inside Tibet we made the film.
I have participated in series of protests against the Chinese repressive policies in Tibet and I was arrested for the first time in 2008. I was arrested three times and tortured brutally. I was arrested for the first time in March 2008, I suffered a lot. I experienced what torture really means in Chinese prison. It isn’t possible to share all the torture that I was subjected to due to the time limit. So for the first time when I was arrested for 51 days I was subjected to serious torture and among all the kinds of torture that I was subjected to the most painful and the worst thing I had suffered was I was put on an iron chair, my hands and ankles was shackled, and they made me immobile 9 times. It isn’t possible to put all the tortures and the kind of suffering I was subjected to in words. In front of iron chair they put a very bright torch placed exactly in front of the iron chair, the heat and light coming out from the torch was so strong that gave me a feeling that my whole skin was melting, light from the torch was so strong that I was unable to open my eyes. When I was put on the iron chair for the 9th time it was horrible beyond what a human being can imagine, and I felt like all my organs, my lungs, and liver were coming out from my mouth. This is a very simple and small incidence of how I was tortured physically.
If I share with you about how I was tortured mentally, I was forced to denounce His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I was forced to denounce the Central Tibetan Administration, I was forced to show contempt for the Youth Congress, I was forced to admit and declare that the 2008 Tibetan mass protests in Tibet was a violent act, I was pressured to disperse the names of all Tibetans who had participated in the secret interviews conducted for the documentary and forced to give the name of all Tibetans who had participated in the 2008 protests. I suffered a lot but despite lots of torture and hardship I was subjected to go through, today when I look back to the most painful part of my life I am overjoyed and I take pride in what I did for the right cause. I haven’t revealed the identity of a single Tibetan who has courageously spoken out – their voices against the Chinese operation in the documentary.
So what I said about what happened to me is just a small example and many people continue to face similar kind of torture. I’m here to speak on behalf of people who continue to face problems, who continue to face torture in Chinese prison. I was arrested again for the second time on 10th April 2009. I was beaten and kicked and I was arrested for the third time in September 2012. When Chinese authorities put me in the prison I was ready to go to jail and spend my life in to jail but I learned that when Chinese authorities put me in prison they were planning to kill me. After learning about the Chinese authorities plan to kill me, I decided to escape, then I escaped from prison and I spent 20 months in hiding. I was shocked to find that the Chinese authorities announced a reward of 200,000 Chinese Yuan to whoever disclosed my whereabouts.
I was fortunately able to escape to India in 2014. So in the last three years I used all the possible opportunities and avenues to inform the people about the true situation inside Tibet. Since today all the human rights defenders and organizations are gathered here today, I have a request, an urge for you all: if the situation in Tibet is not addressed as soon as possible the universality of human rights is under threat and under the influence of China’s economic influence. The universality of human rights keeps the principle of human rights, freedom above all, and safeguards the universality of human rights for all humanity. So those who are fighting for human rights should continue our fight, those who are supporting the defenders should continue their support for the human rights defenders. We cannot fail to protect the universality of human rights and trade human rights for the economic gains and deny that every human being needs basic human rights. The time has come to protect and work together to protect the universality of human rights.
On behalf of all the political prisoners in Tibet I would like to thank you all.