Dharamshala -- A wave of solidarity spread over Tsuglakhang, the main Tibetan temple in Mcleod Ganj on Wednesday, July 15. For, hundreds of Tibetans and Tibet supporters gathered at the temple to express their condolences over the sudden death in prison of one of the most prominent Tibetan political prisoners and a highly respected spiritual figure, Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.
Presided over by Kasur Kirti Rinpoche, the Head Lama of Kirti monasteries, the prayer service was organised by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan administration media reported.
The condolence remarks at the prayer service were delivered by Education Secretary Kalon Ngodup Tsering, who officiated as the Sikyong. While reiterating the deteriorating human rights situation inside Tibet under the repressive regime of the Chinese government, Kalon Ngodup Tsering urged the authorities to return Rinpoche's body to his family
members and the disciples.
On Sunday, 12 July, Rinpoche died under mysterious circumstances as he served a life sentence in Chuandong Prison in the southwestern Chinese Provincial city of Chengdu. The Chinese prison authorities informed
Rinpoche's sisters of his death on the same day. However, despite repeated attempts, they refused to elaborate on the circumstances that led to his death.
Throughout his life, Rinpoche worked to protect Tibetan culture and religion from the onslaught of repressive Chinese policies. He also strived to safeguard Tibet's fragile environment by advocating against illegal mining and pollution of Tibetan river waters.
In 2002, in what was touted to be a politically motivated charge, Rinpoche was arrested by Chinese authorities for his alleged involvement in a bomb blast that occurred in Chengdu city. The real reason for his arrest by Chinese authorities, however, is believed to
be his growing popularity among the public and his staunch loyalty to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was accordingly sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve on December 2, 2002. This charge was laid irrespective of the fact that Rinpoche had proved his innocence
against all the Chinese allegations.
Following massive campaigns and appeals from Tibetans-in-Exile and other international human rights organizations seeking his release, Rinpoche's death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment on