BBC’s ‘Year in Tibet’ criticized for ignoring Panchen’s abduction

55, Mar 31’08

The reality of life today for Tibetans living under Chinese rule is being depicted in a year-round documentary coverage of a monastery in the small southern Tibetan town of Gyantse. The documentary was shot by Seven Stones Media under a commission from the BBC FOUR and is being distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide, reported 4RFV (UK) Feb 21.

Titled as “A Year in Tibet”, the 5x1Hr series follows a calendar year inside the secret confines of the monastery and charts the lives of those living in Gyantse, the small town which surrounds it, and surrounding villages. Series Producer Peter Firstbrook, who filmed Lost on Everest in Tibet in 1999, was quoted as saying: “This exciting project took over two years to negotiate with the authorities and over a year to film and promises to be a series unlike anything seen before on British television.”

London-based Free Tibet campaign has accused the documentary makers of “grievous misrepresentation”, calling it extraordinary that the programme makes no mention of the Chinese government’s abduction of the Panchen Lama. The narrator is reported only to say that the Chinese Government appointed one of the other candidates instead, avoiding any mention of what happened to the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama.

But The Guardian (UK) Mar 5 cited a BBC spokeswoman as saying the programme was only an observational documentary on ordinary Tibetans and not a “detailed examination of its history or politics”. The first of the four-part serial was screened in the UK on Mar 6. Entitled The Visit, it focused on a visit by Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese appointed Panchen Lama, to a monastery in Gyantse.


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