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16june20102Dharamshala: Tibetans and their supporters came together for a global day of action today for the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly revered religious leader and community organizer from eastern Tibet who is currently serving a life sentence in a Chinese prison. In cities around the world, demonstrators delivered a 40,000 signature petition to Chinese embassies and consulates denouncing China's unjust imprisonment of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. In Dharamshala alone, more than ten thousand petition signatures were sent by fax and courier to Chinese authorities in Beijing and to the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. The petition text mirrored a similar petition signed by 40,000 Tibetans in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's home region of Lithang in Kham, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Sichuan Province ). Members of Tenzin Delek's family have made previous attempts to deliver the petition to the Chinese government in December 2009 but were stopped when en route to Beijing.

"Like all Tibetan prisoners of conscience, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche did not receive a fair trial under Chinese law. Now is the time for his case to be re-opened and a new trial to be granted in accordance with international legal standards, especially given his deteriorating health condition," said Ngawang Woebar, President of Gu Chu Sum Movement of Tibet and a former political prisoner. "We sent 40,000 signatures from around the world to the Chinese government today to press for the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who has served nine years of an unjust prison sentence. We are also standing in solidarity with Tibetans in Tibet who have risked their lives to appeal for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's freedom, and call on the international community to join our appeal for this innocent Tibetan monk."

In addition to his spiritual role, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a well-respected Tibetan community leader who was a strong advocate for Tibetan culture and for environmental preservation. He was sentenced to death in December 2002 on false charges of exploding bombs and distributing Tibetan independence leaflets. In January 2005, his death sentence was lessened to life imprisonment after an international campaign was launched on his behalf. Tenzin Delek has maintained his innocence since the day he was detained stating "I am not responsible for these explosions or any other illegal actions, they have pinned this on me... If it is possible to appeal, there is hope that I may be cleared of all charges."

On 11 June, 2010 Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that two of Tenzin Delek's sisters were permitted to visit him in April 2010. This action was in response to promises made by local Chinese authorities after Tibetans in the Lithang area attempted to deliver the petition to the Sichuan Provincial Government in December 2009. According to a written statement received by RFA, the prison doctor confirmed that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was suffering from "ailments related to bones, heart, and blood pressure." One source said that Tenzin Delek hasn't given up hope for his release. Delek has encouraged his sisters to continue their efforts as well as personally sending 26 letters to various Chinese government departments.
"Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was framed by the Chinese government for crimes he did not commit because he was an outspoken advocate for Tibetan culture, religion, and identity. We are deeply concerned for his well-being and demand his immediate release," said Tenzin Choeying, National Director of Students for a free Tibet India. "We call on global citizens of conscience to take action to help free Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. He devoted his life to improving the lives of his people, and for this China sentenced him to life imprisonment."

Tibetans and their supporters took action today in Dharamshala by delivering petitions to Chinese embassies and consulates on four continents, faxing petitions to Beijing ministries and briefing foreign governments.

Organized in Dharamshala by Tibetan Women's Association, Gu Chu Sum & Students for a free Tibet - India.

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