The so called Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Intermediate People’s Court in Dartsedo (Ch: Kangding) on 23 December 2009 sentenced renowned Tibetan lama Tulku Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche to eight years and six months in prison, according to the latest information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) and other reliable sources.
According to the source, some of Tulku’s relatives of were informed by the Court a day before his court appearance, so more than five family members attended the trial at Kardze Intermediate People’s Court on 23 December to hear the verdict. There is no clear information available concerning the crimes for which Tulku was convicted. The two Beijing-based defense lawyers who earlier represented Tulku were not present during the court sentencing, but sources confirmed that a new defense lawyer was present at the court. Tulku is currently being detained at Dartsedo Public Security Bureau (PSB) Detention Centre.
Tulku Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche, 52, is a highly regarded reincarnated Tulku from Tehor Kardze Monastery in Kardze County, Kardze “TAP”, Sichuan Province. He is the chief spiritual preceptor and the head of the Pangri and Ya-tseg Nunneries in Kardze. Tulku is charismatic figure and a source of inspiration and hope, who had constructed an elders home and opened two chemist shops for the local Tibetans.
Phurbu Tsering’s arrest is most likely connected to an incident that occurred on 14 May 2008, four days before his arrest, when around 80 nuns from Pangri and Ya-tseg nunneries took to the streets to carry out a peaceful protest against the Chinese government’s “patriotic education” campaign, which pressured Tibetans to denounce Tibet spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The latest information indicates that only a few nuns remained in Pangri-na Nunnery after the protest and restrictions that followed.
There was no information about Tulku Phurbu Tsering since his arrest last year, until the case of his trial emerged on 21 April 2009. At that time, one of his Chinese lawyers in Beijing, Li Fangping, said in an interview with the Associated Press that the Ganzi Intermediate People’s Court in Dartsedo had put Tulku on trial with the charge of illegally possessing weapons. Prosecutors say a pistol and more than 100 bullets and cartridges were found under a bed in Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche’s living room during a police raid. However, the defense lawyer said that Tulku was framed and described the charge as “untenable”, noting that police didn’t ask him about the source of the weapons or fingerprints on it.
Tulku was reportedly tortured for four days and nights, coerced into making a confession during his detention at Drango (Ch: Luhuo) County Detention Centre. Police even threatened that Tulku’s wife and son would be detained if he did not comply with his captors, according to his lawyer. Such confession extracted through torture is not admissible in court prosecutions. To use this faulty evidence against the suspect violates fundamental international norms and Article 43 of the revised Criminal Procedure Law, which states, “ The use of torture to coerce statements and the gathering of evidence by threats, enticement, deceit or other unlawful methods are strictly prohibited.”
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy strongly condemns the court verdict. The Centre calls for the international community to intervene in the unfair sentencing of Tulku, whom the Centre believes to be sentenced under faulty charges, with evidence extracted through torture.