Dharamshala — United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad said that the custodial death of Tibetan Buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in 2015 was shocking like the recent death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and Cao Shulin in 2014.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a highly respected Buddhist monk and community leader when he was arrested in April 2002 for alleged involvement in a bomb explosion. Following a trial in which no proper evidence was ever produced, he and his colleague Lobsang Dhondup were sentenced to death in December 2002.
UN Human rights cheif Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who is a Jordanian prince, highlights human rights concerns around the world in an address to the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, September 11, 2017 while urging China to address ill-treatment in detention and deaths in custody— considered to be systematically violating human rights.
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said, "The recent death in custody of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo shocked many around the world, as did the deaths, also in custody, of Cao Shunli in 2014 and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in 2015".
UN and human rights groups said that the case against him was flawed, not provided a fair trial and was subjected to ill-treatment in custody. Although his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2005, Tenzin died in July 2015 at the age of 65.
The UN High Commissioner also raised the issue of deprivation of liberty to many persons including Wang Quanzhang, Jiang Tianyong, Li Ming-che, Tashi Wangchuk and Liu Xia by China on "questionable grounds, without any independent oversight mechanism."
"I am particularly concerned about action taken against defence lawyers", Zeid said. However, Zeid also praised China for drafting its first national law regarding detention centres, which will improve standards of treatment, oversight and accountability.
He further commended China's emphasis on the contribution of development to the enjoyment of all human rights. He suggested China to "include a greater focus on vulnerable groups, in particular among the Tibetan, Uyghur and other marginalised populations."
"In Myanmar, another brutal security operation is underway in Rakhine State – this time, apparently on a far greater scale," he said, adding: "In less than three weeks over 270,000 people have fled to Bangladesh, three times more than the 87,000 who fled the previous operation."
Syria and Iraq, two countries that have been longtime staples of concern from UN human rights chiefs, received only passing mention in his address – a testament to the broad concerns about today's world. He also spoke about rights concerns in Burundi, Venezuela, Yemen, Libya and the United States, where he expressed concerns about the Trump administration's plan to dismantle protection for younger immigrants, many of whom have lived most of the lives in the US.
Overall, the High Commissioner updates the Human Rights Council on human rights issues in 40 countries — lamented how the world has grown "darker and dangerous" since he took office three years ago.
"My reflections focuses on States' consistency – or lack of consistency – when it comes to human rights commitments: the so-called internal-external gap. Does it not disturb governments to defend the rights of humans elsewhere – in order to project themselves as global players – while at home they openly deny the rights of their own people? Do they not recognize the hypocrisy?"
"Does it not occur to the many Governments who engage in intimidation and bullying, and commit reprisals against human rights defenders and NGOs which work with the UN human rights mechanisms – do they not realise that this only confirms to us, and to the world, how much oppression and injustice they exercise in their own countries? This is not a shared future; it is the theft of their peoples' inalienable rights."
"Does it not disturb governments when they seize only on some of the countries cited in my oral update and reports, ignoring others? Frequently, a particular critical emergency will demand the focused attention of this Council – and in those circumstances, when swift action is taken, the Council ought to be commended for it. But when this Council does not act with the urgency and magnitude commensurate to the crisis, selectivity becomes a poison that eats away at the credibility of this body."
He encourage the President, and Member States, to develop a stronger, more unified voice in world affairs on behalf of human rights. "I also suggest consideration be given to the need to exclude from this body States involved in the most egregious violations of human rights."
Reflecting on his observation, he said "many senior officials and diplomats indulge in attacks against the human rights mechanisms, or deny the existence of serious violations. It has been extraordinary in the past three years to see how some of these senior officials who once took a dim view of human rights will change their views fundamentally when they themselves are stripped of some of their own rights and freedoms. Violations of human rights should not have to become so personal, for all of us to truly grasp their importance. "
"In the first three years of my current term, the world has grown darker and dangerous," he said, adding: "My vision for the work of my Office has become more determined, drawing even more deeply on the lessons which come to us from our forbears: human rights principles are the only way to avoid global war and profound misery and deprivation."
The UN's human rights chief concluded: "In continuing to lead this Office I am inspired by movements of people standing up in many countries in defiance of the indefensible. They seek, not power or personal profit; what they seek is justice."
Despite Tibetan protests and calls by international governments, China has refused to provide any more information about the circumstances of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's death or to hold anyone accountable for the denial of medical parole for him or the treatment of his family and remains after his death.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was held in a prison in Chengdu, just outside Tibet, and on 2 July 2015, His families were suddenly invited to visit him. They were repeatedly denied access to the prison when they reached Chengdu. On July 12, they were informed he had died - according to the authorities after unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him after a heart attack. Some monks accompanying the family were allowed to see his body and reported that his mouth and fingernails were black. However, the authorities refused to issue a proper death certificate or release his body.
In the days following his death, authorities in his home area of Nagchukha County moved quickly to prevent anger and grief over his death turning into political action. Peaceful protests in the County demanding the return of his body were broken up with beatings, tear gas and firing into the air.Despite calls by international community, Rinpoche's body was cremated on 16 July 16, against his family's wishes.