Dharamshala: In an open letter to the Central Government leaders of China, and relevant bodies, devotees of imprisoned leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche,who was arrested on April 7, 2002 for his suspected involvement in a bomb blast in Chengdu city have appealed for his release and fair treatment due to his deteriorating condition.
OnDecember 2nd the Intermediate People's Court sentenced Tenzin delek Rinpoche and his disciple, Lobsang Dhondup, for "the bombings and the subversion of state power" during a secret and unlawful trial.
Both men were sentenced to death; however on 24 January 2005, based on relevant provisions of China's Criminal Law, the Rinpoche's sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. After more than eleven years of wrongful imprisonment, both is physical and mental health has severely deteriorated due to gross mistreatment in prison.
Since his imprisonment, relatives and disciples have rarely been allowed to visit Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in prison; just six times in total -the last time being on August 14, 2012.
During this visit he stated: "I have not done anything that violates the Chinese Constitution and laws. Therefore, you should appeal for my case and arrange for a retrial. If money was a problem, then you should solicit donations. There is no shame in asking for donation because I, myself, have done nothing that I should be ashamed of, let alone be convicted for something as baseless as violating Chinese laws."
He has also stated: "I have submitted eighteen petitions to prison authorities [advocating innocence.] But the prison authorities ignored them. Finally, out of desperation, I warned the authorities that if they keep on ignoring my petitions, I would have no choice but to refuse their medical treatment and sit on hunger strike. The authorities finally responded by saying that my petition would be forwarded to the higher/central authorities, yet so far they haven't acted on this."
In the letter the followers highlighted:
'The goal of the Chinese government after all is to create unity of nationalities and harmonious society, and this goal can be achieved only when the principles of the constitution are upheld and respected'. They highlighted the duties and good deeds the revered Rinpoche has performed in the past, adding:
'Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is a very respected spiritual figure among the Tibetan population, who has been credited with performing numerous charitable and welfare activities benefitting the public. Apart from his spiritual teachings, he founded schools for Tibetan orphans, old people's homes, help build roads, bridges and spread awareness about environmental protection'.
'The general Tibetan public believe that Rinpoche hasn't done anything that is in violation of Chinese laws and constitution'.
The lack of stability on the region was also highlighted in the letter, which highlighted the:
'cycle of repression, resistance [continuing], causing further instabilities'
'On humanitarian grounds, we request the Chinese higher authorities to start a retrial of Rinpoche's case. If retrial is not possible, we request the higher authorities to at least grant Rinpoche medical parole given his advanced age and heart disease. We hope the Chinese central government and relevant departments of the CPC Central Committee will consider Rinpoche's case favourably'.
Delek is also an advocate for environmental conservation in the face of indiscriminate logging and mining projects, and in the past has worked as a mediator between both Tibetans and Chinese.
In November 2009, 40,000 Tibetans in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's home area signed a petition asking for a re-trial. A great number of his devotees also staged a hunger strike at the county seat of Lithang, of which around 70 Tibetans were arrested.
The revered leader has always maintained his innocence during his imprisonment, despite the immediate execution of his disciple Lobsang Dhondup after their alleged involvement in the bombing in Chengdu.