Dharamshala — Tibetans and Tibetan supporters gathered yesterday to gather support for the medical release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who has been unjustly imprisoned by Chinese authorities for the past 13 years.
Students for a Free Tibet and Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Service Community jointly organized the event that served as a book release and kickstarter for the global campaign calling on world governments to urgently pursue life saving medical parole for the Rinpoche. Similar events were also held in different corners of the world, including South India, US and European countries.
"Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has been in prison for 13 years and is known to be in extremely poor health with a serious heart condition and high blood pressure," said Yunten Lobsang, a former student of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. "During a rare visit to see Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, his family spoke to a doctor who told them that he believed Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had a serious heart condition for which he needed surgery," he added. An official application for medical parole was made by Tenzin Delek's family in 2014. Authorities have not responded to the application nor have they granted visitation rights to the family. Under Chinese law, Tenzin Delek is entitled to both visitation rights and medical parole.
Charged with "crimes of terror and incitement of separatism," Tenzin Delek was sentenced to death, with a 2-year reprieve, on 2 December 2002 by the Kardze (CH: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People's Court. His conviction was based on a confession obtained under torture from his alleged accomplice, Lobsang Dondrup, who was sentenced to death and executed on 26 January 2003. Tenzin Delek's death sentence was lessened to life sentence in 2005. During the trial, no evidence other than the confession of Lobsang Dondrup was offered as Tenzin Delek maintained his innocence throughout. No court documents have been released to date, Tenzin Delek was provided no legal representation, and the case continues to be shrouded in absolute secrecy.
Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, Penpa Tsering, attended the event as the chief guest. He highlighted the importance of campaigning and harolding attention to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's cause. He said, "It is very important that we have international support for such a movement because I have met several former political prisoners who told me that attention from the international community definitely affects the situation in prisons in Tibet. All of us gathering here will definitely help in gathering support in the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche."
Attendees of the event signed a petition from the International Tibet Network appealing to world governments to urgently pursue the medical parole of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, which will be delivered to Foreign Ministers of various governments on June 21, 2015, International Day for Victims of Torture.