Chinese authorities in Sichuan have detained four supporters of jailed Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche after forcibly returning them from Beijing, where they had gone to present a 30,000-signature petition for the religious leader’s release, according to Tibetan sources.
The four had traveled to the Chinese capital on July 9 and were accompanied by Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s sister, who was sent back from Beijing with the others to Sichuan’s Nyagchukha (in Chinese, Yajiang) county but was not detained, Tsering Dorje, a Tibetan living in exile, told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region.
“On July 9, 2013, Dolkar, the sister of Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, and four male disciples of Rinpoche secretly traveled to Beijing and presented an appeal for Rinpoche's release,” Tsering Dorje said.
“They presented a written appeal supported by over 30,000 signatures to the relevant departments in Beijing, emphasizing Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s innocence in a bomb blast case.”
Charged with involvement in an April 3, 2002 bombing in the central square of Sichuan’s capital Chengdu, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, now 63, was sentenced to death in December 2002 along with an assistant, Lobsang Dondrub.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death sentence was then suspended and was later commuted to life imprisonment, but Lobsang Dondrub was executed almost immediately, prompting an outcry from rights activists who questioned the fairness of the trial.
Tsering Dorje identified the petitioners, who have been held since July 20 in Sichuan’s Gara Detention Center, as Sokrang Lori, Lugdzi Abe, Lhamo Choedrub, and Du Trinley.
Fears of delay
The men explained they had taken the risk of traveling to Beijing to present their petition because directing it through lower levels of authority would have “taken too long” and it would not have been handled fairly, Dorje said.
“In their petition, they asked that Rinpoche be released as soon as possible or, if this was not possible, that he be granted medical parole and provided with medical treatment,” Dorje said.
In April 2010, prison authorities told family members that the jailed monk was suffering from ailments “related to bones, heart, and blood pressure,” a Tibetan living in Sichuan told RFA in an earlier report.
They added that he had also recently suffered a fall, possibly caused by ill health, RFA’s source said.
In a Feb. 8, 2004 report, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s trial was “procedurally flawed” and that charges had been brought against him to “curb his efforts to foster Tibetan Buddhism … and his work to develop Tibetan social and cultural institutions.”
Authorities had begun to perceive Tenzin Delek Rinpoche as a threat as his “local status rose and he successfully challenged official policies on a number of issues,” HRW said.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.