TIBETANS WERE DENIED LAWYERS IN BOMB TRIAL

2002-12-06
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 6--A Tibetan activist and an influential Tibetan monk sentenced to death this week in connection with a series of bombings in western China were denied access to lawyers during their trial, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

The monk, Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche, 52, "shouted [after his sentencing] that the trial was unfair and the charges against him and his assistant, Lobsang Dhondup, were untrue," a close relative of one of the men told RFA�s Tibetan service. "He shouted that he should be put to death immediately rather than having his death sentence suspended for two years."

"Three times in court, Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche shouted 'Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama,'" said the relative, who asked not to be named. "He was immediately gagged with a brush and forced out of the court. The whole court was in shock, and they could not proceed for a long time."

On Monday, a court in China�s western Sichuan Province handed down death sentences to both men in connection with a series of bombings blamed on supporters of Tibetan independence. Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche�s sentence was suspended for two years, however. Death sentences in China are usually carried out, while suspended death sentences often are commuted to long prison terms. Sichuan Province borders Tibet and has a community of ethnic Tibetans. It was unclear whether the men were tried together or separately.

Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche was denied visitors following his arrest on April 7, 2002, the relative said. "If he could tell us that he did it and not to worry, we would be at peace. But they never allowed us to meet him," the relative said. He added that Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche had always discouraged law-breaking. "He would always tell us not to steal, hunt, or smoke, and to follow the rules of the government. If we do not follow the rules, we will suffer ultimately, [he said]."

"Only two of Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche�s family members were allowed to attend the trial," the relative said. "No lawyers were allowed since the accused were labeled 'reactionary and anti-government.'"

Separately, one of several judges who decided the case told RFA that the monk had confessed to five of six explosions with which he was charged. He failed to indicate whether Lobsang Dhondup, 28, had also confessed.

"It could be the view of some sections of the public that he is a great generous Rimpoche, but he accepted his responsibility in five of the six explosions," Director Zhao, head of the Kardze [Ganzi] Judiciary, said in an interview. "Their names were linked to all these explosions, and there were no other suspects."

"He claims himself as a reincarnate lama recognized by the Dalai Lama, but he had no letter to prove his claim," Zhao said. "He had also sent many letters [advocating] the independence of Tibet. He drafted them, Lobsang Dhondup copied them, and the originals were burnt."

According to the Tibetan Information Network in London, Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche studied in India in the 1980s with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

"When he came back from abroad, he said that he did not like Lithang Monastery [a major monastery in Sichuan] worshipping Shugden," he said, referring to the wrathful Buddhist deity. "He said it is the order of the Dalai Lama that Shugden is not helpful for Tibet and should be destroyed. But Lithang Monastery rejected this."

Zhao cited numerous bomb blasts between 1998 and 2002: two at the home of Lithang Kyabgon Rimpoche, the chief abbot of Lithang Monastery, three in the city of Dartsedo [Kangding, Sichuan], one in front of a major government building, and one outside a police station. "In [the last] explosion, an old man was killed. All these bombs were works of [Lobsang Dhondup] and all the expenses were paid by [Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche]," he said.

"Another explosion took place this year at the Tianfu market square in Chengdu...12 persons were wounded. Lobsang Dhondup was arrested at the place of explosion," Zhou said.

The Dalai Lama's Tibetan government-in-exile has demanded that both sentences be reversed. It said the two men had been denied fair trials and the sentences should be thrown out.

Militants opposed to Chinese control of Tibet have carried out at least eight similar bomb attacks in the Himalayan region since the mid-1990s. Communist troops marched into the region in 1950, and Beijing says it has been part of China for centuries.

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly urged Tibetans to avoid violence in opposing Chinese rule. But some Tibetans have pushed for militant action, and Chinese authorities have accused the Dalai Lama of masterminding pro-independence violence.

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content. #####

Contact: Sarah Jackson-Han 202 530 7774

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