Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has died in Chinese prison

Tenzin Dolkar, tdolkar@studentsforafreetibet.org, +1 (917) 664-5530 (English)
Dorjee Tseten, dorjee@studentsforafreetibet.org, +1 (917) 514-1521 (English, Tibetan)
Padma Dolma, padma@studentsforafreetibet.org, +1 (917) 664- 3315 (English, German)

Tibetan political prisoner and Buddhist teacher Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has passed away in Chinese prison as confirmed by his family members who were informed by the police in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on the 12th of July. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s family in Tibet are currently demanding that the prison authorities release his body for final Buddhist ceremonies.

Over 13 years of unjust imprisonment and torture left Tenzin Delek Rinpoche with critical medical conditions for which he received no treatment. In 2014, his family members applied for medical parole for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche with the Chinese government, which was never granted.

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 and later to 20 years in 2005. Tenzin Delek maintained his innocence throughout.

Tenzin Dolkar, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet says: “An innocent Tibetan Buddhist monk has died at the hands of the Chinese government. His death is in every sense a political murder – a long, drawn out execution of a Tibetan hero who was a religious leader, environmentalist and rights advocate. We condemn the Chinese government for the murder of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. His death is a harsh reminder of the violent and brutal reality of Chinese-occupied Tibet and the fatal consequences for those who speak up for truth, justice, human rights and freedom for Tibetans in Tibet.”

Geshe Nyima, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s cousin, based in Dharamsala, India, says: “I am heartbroken at the loss of my dear cousin and our beloved Buddhist teacher. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was an innocent monk who suffered over 13 years of unjust imprisonment, torture and abuse in a Chinese prison for simply advocating for the rights and well-being of his people and for expressing his devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Chinese government must immediately release his body so that our family and community may perform the last Buddhist religious rites.”

Tenzin Dolkar, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet says: “We fear for the lives of the Tibetans inside Tibet who are deeply affected by the death of their beloved Buddhist teacher Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. With news of armed Chinese troops moving into the local area, there is a heightened risk of a violent crackdown. World leaders must publicly condemn the Chinese government for the death of an innocent Buddhist monk and human rights defender and take concrete action to protect the lives of Tibetans in Tibet.”

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