China Releases Supporter of Jailed Tibetan Monk

2007-03-06
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Nov. 5, 2004: Protesters pray during a five-day Relay Hunger Strike in Bombay for the release of Lama Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Photo: AFP/Sebastian D'Souza

DHARAMSALA, India—Chinese authorities have released from prison a man jailed for passing on information about jailed monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, sources in Asia have told RFA’s Tibetan service.

The man, Takphel, remains under virtual house arrest in the Lithang Tibetan area, under surveillance by Chinese police, according to the sources.

“Takphel was released from prison on Feb. 26 after being held for almost five years, allegedly for giving out information about Tenzin Delek Rinpoche,” said one source, who asked not to be identified. “He was sentenced for five years in 2003 for his alleged involvement in smuggling the contents of Tenzin Delek’s tape out to Radio Free Asia.”

Takphel read out the contents of the smuggled tape over the phone to RFA’s Tibetan service for broadcast in 2003.

Jailed for speaking to reporters

Another source said Takphel was met on his release by several hundred Tibetan well-wishers on his arrival in the Lithang area. He was also met by an advance party of motorbike riders at Cheroka, about 20 kms (12.4 miles) from Lithang.

The local people consider him a hero because he supported Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was innocent. He reached his home on Feb. 27, 2007.

Lithang is located in Karzi (in Chinese, Garze) prefecture, a traditionally Tibetan area in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

“The local people consider him a hero because he supported Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was innocent. He reached his home on Feb. 27, 2007,” the source said.

A source in India said Takphel had gotten into trouble for speaking to foreign news organizations about Tenzin Delek’s trial, during which the monk is reported to have shouted “Long live the Dalai Lama!” in court.

“He was severely beaten before his arrest in 2003 since he talked to foreign organizations,” said the source, a close associate of both Takphel and Tenzin Delek.

Calls to the Lithang area police station during office hours went unanswered.

Smuggled audio tape

Many Tibetans were detained after the story of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s arrest and trial was leaked to the media in late 2002 and early 2003.

The Sichuan Provincial People’s High Court sentenced Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, in his 50s, to life imprisonment Jan. 26, 2005, after a prolonged international campaign to prevent his execution for an alleged bomb plot in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.

In Jan. 2003, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche made an audio tape that was smuggled out of prison to RFA’s Tibetan service, in which he reiterated his innocence.

Another man, Lobsang Dhondup, was sentenced to death in the same case and executed on Jan. 26, 2003.

Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan service. Director: Jigme Ngapo. Translated by Karma Dorjee and written in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.