China Hasnt Said If Monk Will Face Death Penalty

Undated photo of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Photo: RFA

WASHINGTON—Relatives of a jailed Tibetan monk whose two-year stay of execution expires Thursday say they still haven’t been told if Tenzin Delek Rinpoche will face the death penalty.

“We are really very worried about his fate. We don't know what will happen to him. The authorities are not telling us anything,” one relative told RFA’s Tibetan service.

Suspended death sentences are almost always commuted to long jail terms in China, but Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s family fears he may be singled out for harsher treatment.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was sentenced to death with a two-year suspension on Dec. 2, 2002, in connection with a series of bombings blamed on supporters of Tibetan independence.

Another man, Lobsang Dhondup, was simultaneously sentenced to death in the same case and executed on Jan. 26, 2003. Both men denied the charges, and the case prompted an international outcry.

We are really very worried about his fate. We don't know what will happen to him. The authorities are not telling us anything.

Relatives said they have made inquiries to both the Kanze Prefecture Intermediate Court and the Prefecture Public Security Bureau but been rebuffed.

Repeated phone calls during business hours by RFA reporters to the same government offices initially went unanswered. Later, officials who declined to identify themselves said they were no longer handling the case and had no information to share.

Four relatives who protested Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s innocence when he was sentenced two years ago have since been barred from traveling from their home villages, sources said.

U.S. voices concern

On Nov. 19, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department voiced serious concern about Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s closed-door trial in 2002.

The United States has stressed “the need to provide clear and convincing evidence of guilt in all capital cases and noted widespread international concern over Tenzin Delek [Rinpoche’s] case,” spokeswoman Darla Jordan told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

"The United States has been following the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche very closely since learning of his arrest in connection to several bombings in Sichuan Province and China’s imposition of the death sentence in this case,” she said.

The death sentences handed down to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Lobsang Dhondup prompted an international outcry, and human rights organizations called for an open re-trial of the case.

Washington “has repeatedly expressed serious concern to People’s Republic of China officials that Tenzin Delek was not accorded due process during his closed trial and that, despite repeated assurances to the contrary by Chinese officials, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s sentence was not reviewed by the Supreme People’s Court,” the U.S. spokeswoman said.

"We have recently raised our concerns about Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s situation here in Washington with the Chinese Embassy, in Beijing with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and with authorities of Sichuan, where Tenzin Delek is imprisoned,” Jordan said.

"We have emphasized the need to provide clear and convincing evidence of guilt in all capital cases and noted widespread international concern over Tenzin Delek’s case,” she said. "No individual should be detained solely for expressing personal views or engaging in other peaceful legitimate activities.”

"We consider him a political prisoner,” said T. Kumar, Washington-based director of Asia Advocacy at Amnesty International said last month. “Amnesty International urges the Chinese authorities to stop all executions, and in particular the execution of political prisoners such as Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.”

Smuggled audiotape

In its 2003 report on human rights around the world, the U.S. State Department said the Chinese government’s human rights record in Tibetan areas of China “remained poor, although some positive developments continued.”

"The trials of both Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche were closed to the public on ‘state secrets’ grounds, and they were denied due process, including access to adequate representation,” the report.

"Lobsang Dhondup's execution the same day he lost his appeal to the Sichuan Provincial Higher People's Court, as well as the failure of the national-level Supreme People's Court to review the case as promised to foreign officials, raised serious concerns in the international community.”

In January 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.


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