Newsroom

October 13, 1998

Mother of Imprisoned Tibetan Fulbright Scholar Ngawang Choephel to Speak at Middlebury College During Anniversary Observance on Oct. 22

Sonam Deyki Travels to U.S. from Exiled Home in India to Join Congressman Bernard Sanders and Other Speakers for the Event--Screening of Documentary "Missing in Tibet" to Include Video Footage by Choephel

On Oct. 22, an anniversary observance of the imprisonment of former Fulbright Scholar Ngawang Choephel will take place on the Middlebury College campus. Events, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. and continue throughout the evening, are free and open to the public.

At 4:30 p.m. in Warner Hemicycle on College Street (Route 125) a screening of the documentary film "Missing in Tibet" will be followed by a short prayer and meditation for Choephel led by Andrea Olsen. Professor of dance at Middlebury College, Olsen was Choephel's colleague and friend at Middlebury, where he studied ethnomusicology in 1993 and 1994.

In 1995 Choephel returned to his native Tibet to videotape a documentary film related to his studies. While taping, he was apprehended and detained by Chinese authorities, but not before 18 hours of footage was successfully delivered out of the country. Much of the footage has now been incorporated into the film "Missing in Tibet."

Choephel was subsequently convicted as a spy against the Chinese government. Reported as "dazed and in poor health," he is currently serving an 18-year sentence resulting from his attempt to produce scholarly documentation of traditional music and dance in Chinese-ruled Tibet.

Starting at 7 p.m. in Mead Chapel on Hepburn Road off College Street (Route 125), Vermont Congressman Bernard Sanders will join Choephel's mother, Sonam Deyki, and several other special guests, including representatives from Vermont Senator James Jeffords' office and the Washington, D.C.-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT). Ms. Deyki will be the keynote speaker and other participants will address various aspects of Choephel's plight.

Ms. Deyki, a Tibetan refuge now living in India, comes to Middlebury as part of a speaking tour that includes Amherst, Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. After the U.S. tour, Deyki will travel throughout Europe to continue to seek support that might influence Chinese officials to grant her permission to visit Choephel in prison, and to gain his release. Since first contacting the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi in December of 1996, she has, to date, not been allowed to make the visit. "I long to see my only son before I die," she said.

Jon Barlow, head of the Committee for Ngawang Choephel at the ICT, will also participate in the speaker session. Barlow was a fellow student and friend of Choephel while both men studied at Middlebury College. After Choephel's disappearance, Barlow founded Students for a Free Tibet at Middlebury, and coordinated a major letter-writing campaign on behalf of the Middlebury community. The campaign helped to bring Choephel's case to the attention of government officials both in Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Congressman Sanders and a representative from Senator Jeffords' office will also participate in the evening session, offering comments and a question-and-answer period pertaining to government action for the release of Choephel. Both Jeffords and Sanders have worked to bring attention to Choephel's case at an international level and have raised concerns over protection of human rights in China.

All are invited to attend. For more information contact Middlebury College Students for a Free Tibet President Sasha Duerr by phone at (802) 443-6411, or e-mail at duerr@middlebury.edu.