Key Tibetan political prisoner dies in jail

13th July 2015

China refuses to release body: thousands gather to protest

65-year-old Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has died in prison, on 12 July 2015. The senior monk was in the thirteenth year of a 20 year sentence for alleged involvement in bombings that took place in Chengdu in China's Sichuan province. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has always maintained his innocence. His co-accused in his 2002 trial was executed.

China ignores appeals

Governments and campaign groups have repeatedly called for his release because of his deteriorating health. China refused to grant him medical parole. Earlier this month, family members of the Rinpoche were informed that they would be allowed visit him in the prison. No visitors had been allowed since November 2013. When they arrived at the prison, however, his sisters were repeatedly denied access to him. A promised meeting on 12 July did not take place and at around 11pm (local time) on 12 July, prison authorities informed Rinpoche’s sisters, who were waiting outside the prison that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had died.

Community demands release of body

Repeated appeals to the Chinese authorities for the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's body have been rejected and the famliy have been told he will be cremated in prison and the ashes returned to them. Rinpoche’s sisters and several of the monks his monastery were ordered to go back to their hometown (Nyagchu County in southeast Tibet) without "causing any disturbance". Thousands of Tibetans in Nyagchu County have gathered outside the local government office, demanding the body so they can carry out funeral rituals. In response to strengthening protests, China has deployed a large numbers of security forces in Nyagchu County and government offices in the County have remained open throughout the night.

Take Action

Jails in Tibet are full of political prisoners. Many are serving long-term sentences for voicing their opinions on the desperate situation in their country. Tell China's Minister of Justice Wu Aiying to release Tibet's political prisoners and to ensure that all Tibetans are free to express themselves without fear of punishment.

(photos and captions can also be viewed on Flickr.)