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1january20101Dharamshala: Hundreds of Tibetans in Lithang County staged a hunger strike last month for the release of Trulku Tenzin Delek Ringpoche, a popular local religious figure who was arrested by Chinese authorities under false charges. In response, the Chinese authorities cracked down on the protestors, arresting 160 and seriously injuring 20.

Ven Nyima Wangchu, a student of Trulku Tenzin Delek's who is living in India, described the Chinese authorities' lies concerning Trulku's trial and sentences, saying, "Firstly, Chinese authorities untruthfully charged Trulku for plotting bomb-blast in the city of Chendu and Dhartsedho county, in addition to blowing up the residence of Lihtang Shakduk Kyagong Rinpoche. They also lied about finding a woman's belongings in his house, in order to trick the Tibetan people and reduce their faith in him, without any evidence or verification. But [Tibetan] people know it is a Chinese plot, because the bombed building in Chendu city was under tight Chinese security, and no ordinary people were allowed near it."

Trulku Tenzin Delek was born in 1950 in the Lithang region of eastern Tibet, and at the age of seven joined Lithang Monastery. The 49 year-old Trulku was initially sentenced to two years and then to death for "inciting separatism", "causing explosions" and "illegal possession of guns and ammunition", but his sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2005.

On 31 December, the Tibetan Youth Congress led a protest in New Delhi condemning the Chinese government's violent reaction to Tibetan petitioners in Lithang. TYC, the largest Tibetan NGO, which seeks complete independence for Tibet as opposed to the official Middle Way approach, demanded Trulku Tenzin Delek's unconditional release.

Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople shouted for an end to Chinese oppression as they carried the Tibetan national flag, placards, and posters, walking to the UN Information Centre in New Delhi. They appealed to the UN to follow up on the assurances the Secretary General made to TYC by during a hunger strike in 2004 in front of UN headquarters for Trulku's release.

A Memorandum was sent to Indian Prime Minister Manhoman Singh, United Nations Secretary General Ban Kyi Moon and Chinese president Hu Jintao.

The TYC said China must allow free access for humanitarian organizations to provide emergency medical assistance for Tibetans injured in the clampdown.

Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is widely acclaimed for his work to develop social, medical, educational and religious institutions for Tibetan nomads in eastern Tibet, to advocate for environmental conservation in the face of destructive logging and mining projects, and as a mediator between Tibetans and Chinese. Along with the Tibetan protesters, overseas human rights groups and UN human rights experts argue that the case against Tenzin Delek is seriously flawed, and continue to support his release, or at least a fair retrial.

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