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Statement on the tragic death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche 

We are deeply saddened by the news of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche passing away in Chinese prison on July 12th, 2015. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a Tibetan political prisoner and Buddhist teacher. Our heart sank for the loss of a great leader, teacher and hero of Tibetan struggle of cultural, religious and environmental preservation.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was arrested on April 7, 2002. He was sentenced to death on trumped-up charges of “crimes of terror and incitement of separatism.” However, a substantive report by Human Rights Watch in 2004 concluded that the charges against Tenzin Delek Rinpoche were politically motivated to undermine His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a religious leader and the Tibetan movement. According to his family members, that over the 13 years of unjust imprisonment and torture, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had suffered critical medical conditions and was denied of medical parole from the Chinese government continuously.

During the 10th Interethnic Interfaith Leadership Conference, with the help of International Campaign for Tibet, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s student Geshe Tenpa brought Rinpoche’s case to the conference. He, as Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s student, joined the effort in the founding of Children of Prisoners of Conscience of China [Panel Video]. In the 10th Conference Declaration of Unity [Link], the conference delegates agreed to work together for the release and freedom of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Despite all the efforts of saving Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, the Chinese government continued torturing Tenzin Delek Rinpoche which likely to be the cause of his death.

Thus, we strongly condemn the unimaginable human rights abuses, cultural genocide, and environmental destruction done by the Chinese government to Tibetans. We call the Chinese government to return the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche to his family and monastic community and to give an explanation to the tragic death of Rinpoche. For international communities, we urge you to join us in taking actions called by:

International Campaign for Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet 

  • Urge the Chinese authorities to return the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche to his family and monastic community, and to act with restraint towards Tibetans seeking to express their grief;
  • Make public statements expressing their concern about the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche;
  • Raise urgent questions with the Beijing leadership about the circumstances that led to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death and whether medical treatment was provided to him;
  • Article 55 of the PRC’s Prison Law states, “If a prisoner dies an abnormal death, the people’s procuratorate shall immediately conduct examinations and make an appraisal on the cause of the death.” The Chinese government should implement its Prison Law by conducting a medical appraisal and providing his family members with the report;
  • Send this urgent call to action letter to like-minded governments to strongly condemn the Chinese government and launch an international inquiry into Tenzin Delek’s death:
  • Call China now to demand that local Chinese authorities release Tenzin Delek’s body back to his family for final Buddhist religious rites:
  • Join or organize a protest near you.
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