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29october20102Dharamshala: At 8:30am, today (29th October), over 100 people commemorated the 60th birthday of political prisoner, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. His followers, students, relatives and Tibetan NGOs all attended the celebration. It began with one of his followers talking about Tenzin's life, followed by prays for Tenzin's health and his immediate release. The event was not only observed in Dharamshala, but also in South India and Europe.

Yangchen Dolma, who was at the event, held at Lhagyal-ri, Dharamshala, described the occasion "It was very good, we saw a photo of him and I felt very emotional because he is the only Rinpoche and lama from my village. I also felt very sad because he is in prison, but I hope and pray for his release from prison."

"When I was in Tibet, he was arrested by the Chinese police, the entire village felt very sad and we all demonstrated. But we cannot do anything, some of our countrymen were arrested at that time and we couldn't do anything, we were upset. He is a very great lama, doing lots of work for the Tibetan people, he dared to do work." She added.

The Chinese authorities tried to arrest Tenzin three times, but they failed because he hid in the local forest for some months. But finally on April 7th, 2002 they came and surrounded his monastery and arrested him along with 4 other monks. Lobsang Dhondup, a 28-year old assistant of Tenzin's was among the arrested. Lobsang was executed almost immediately in late January 2003, marking the first execution of a Tibetan for political crimes in 20 years.

Tenzin Delek's trial began on November 29th 2002 before the Local Court in Garze, he was accused of involvement in a bomb attack on April 3, 2002 at the central square of Sichuan's provincial capital, Chengdu and was sentenced to death with a two-year execution adjournment. However, due to protests inside and outside Tibet, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on 26 January 2005.

In November 2009, 40,000 Tibetans in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's home area signed a petition asking for a re-trial. They staged a hunger strike at the county seat of Lithang for a few days, which lead to the temporary arrest of about 70 Tibetans.

Tenzin Delek is also widely known for working to develop social, medical, educational and religious institutions for Tibetan nomads in eastern Tibet, as an advocate for environmental conservation in the face of indiscriminate logging and mining projects. He strived for an increase in education in Tibet, telling the Chinese authorities that "we Tibetans need freedom of education and all Chinese people have knowledge but we Tibetans have none." He built a school for nomads in the area, however, this has already been destroyed by the Chinese government. He also built seven monasteries to keep the old safe since they were unable to care from themselves.

Tenzin Delek Rinphoche stated the reasons why China persecutes him, "Since I am a Tibetan, I have always been sincere and devoted to the interests and well-being of Tibetan people. That is the real reason why the Chinese do not like me and framed me. That is why they are going to take my precious life even though I am innocent."

Ven. Nyima Wangchuk who is a student of Rinpoche also told the Tibet Post International that "recently a few people have been able to visit Tenzin in prison but it is very rare, his health is very poor. They say that he has heart disease, that's why the Tibetan people are very worried about him. He could not say much about his condition because he has many police around him. In Tibet the photo of Tenzin cannot be put on altars or hung up on the wall. People are in a very difficult situation because they want to see him, especially the old people who want to see him before they die."

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