Peaceful mass sit-in protest in China over Tenzin Delek’s Death

Despite reported heavy restrictions of movement over 100 Tibetans have travelled to Chuandong prison, Chinese city of Chengdu and are currently holding a peaceful sit-in protest to demand the release of the body of Tibetan Buddhist monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche (1) in order to perform final Buddhist rites. His death was reported on 12 July, 2015.

The protest started at around 9am local Beijing time today and is currently ongoing. The peaceful sit-in follows two days of unsuccessful negotiations between the police and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s immediate family to release the body.

The protesters are at a high risk of facing a violent response by Chinese authorities. On Monday several thousands of Tibetans were protesting Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death in his hometown Nyagchuka (ch. Yajiang) when Chinese authorities shot at the crowd, leaving 15 people critically injured and hospitalized.

“The situation outside the prison where Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s body is kept is really tense at the moment. I fear for the safety of my family and friends who have travelled from our hometown to the prison in order to demand the authorities to release Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s body. It is our right that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, our teacher and leader, receives the final Tibetan Buddhist rites. But authorities are threatening to cremate his body inside the prison,” said Geshe Nyima, cousin of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche based in Dharamsala, India.

Tenzin Dolkar, Executive Director of Students for A Free Tibet, says: “We fear for the lives of over 100 Tibetans who have gathered outside the prison and are protesting Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death amid armed police. There is a high risk of a violent crackdown on the peaceful protesters by authorities as the situation could escalate at any time. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death is endemic for the treatment of Tibetans by the Chinese government. An urgent intervention by world leaders is needed to protect the lives of Tibetans.”

Students for a Free Tibet has been protesting Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death worldwide and is mobilising their more than 70.000 members for advocacy work targeting world leaders to work together and put pressure on the Chinese government to undertake an independent investigation into the suspicious circumstances of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death.

“Thousands of Tibetans inside Tibet continue to protest Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death, which has led to a violent crackdown by Chinese armed troops in the past two days. Tibetans and supporters are holding rallies outside Chinese Consulates and embassies worldwide. And we will not stop until justice is served for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and his family. We call on world governments to strongly condemn the Chinese government for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s custodial death and demand an independent investigation into the suspicious circumstances of his death.”, says Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director of Students for A Free Tibet

Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, human rights in Tibet have deteriorated. The Chinese government is spreading its oppressive policies and tactics in Tibet. World governments’ action at this critical moment will send a strong message of resistance and solidarity with people who stand for human right and freedom.


End Notes:
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was arrested on April 7, 2002, and then sentenced to death on trumped-up charges of “crimes of terror and incitement of separatism” in December 2002. He had no access to the lawyer his family appointed for him and no court documents about his case have since been released. Following an international campaign, his death sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. Tenzin Delek maintained his innocence throughout.


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