UPDATE: Tenzin Delek Rinpoche – security forces deployed in home county as thousands call for release of body

Monday, 13 July 2015

Authorities plan cremation in prison despite appeals London 12:00 (UK) - Following today’s confirmation of the death of Tibetan political prisoner Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Free Tibet has confirmed a large deployment of security forces in Nyagchu County, the Rinpoche’s home county (1) where thousands of local Tibetans are gathering near the local government office located near his monastery. Protests are reported to be getting stronger and the government offices remained open all night on the 12 July. The clampdown follows the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche yesterday, 12 July. He had been serving a life sentence after conviction in 2002 for alleged involvement in bombings in Chengdu, Sichuan. He had been denied medical parole in spite of repeated calls by his family, human rights groups and governments because of his ill health (2). Following his death in Chuandong Prison in Chengdu, appeals by family members and monks from his monastery for the return of his body have been rejected by the prison and they have not been allowed to see it. Authorities have said he will be cremated in prison and his ashes returned to the family. Family members and monks have been warned to return to their homes “without making a disturbance”.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren says:

“We are deeply saddened by the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Wrongfully convicted in the first place, his deteriorating health while in prison has been well documented and concerns have been repeatedly raised about his health by governments and campaign groups alike. China has ignored the world, as it so often does, and is now ignoring the pleas of local Tibetans who wish to give him proper funeral services. The developing situation in Nyagchu is deeply concerning and we call on the authorities to show restraint and to honour the wishes of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s family and community. “It is always very difficult to get reliable information about individuals once they disappear into the Chinese prison system. But today we know one thing – an innocent man has died and the Chinese government is responsible.” His family had last been allowed to visit him in November 2013. On 2 July 2015 they were informed they could visit him but were denied access for several days when they arrived. His sisters were told on Saturday 11 July that the meeting would finally take place at 9am on 12 July but again, it did not take place. At around 11pm (local time) on 12 July, prison authorities told them of his death. The sisters appealed to the authorities to let them see Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's body or hand it over. After the authorities’ refusal they returned to the area of Chengdu in which they had been staying but came back yesterday accompanied by monks from his monastery (Nalanda Thekchen Choeling). All the local Tibetans have now returned to Nyagchu. In October 2014, people in the area held a public prayer service seeking his release (3 photographs available) Information supplied by Tibet Watch.

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For further information or comment, contact Free Tibet media manager Alistair Currie: E: alistair@freetibet.org T: +44 (0)207 324 4605

Notes to editors

Location: Nyagchu County, Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Kham (Ch: Yajiang County, Ganzi TAP, Sichuan Province) US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall called for his release at an event in Geneva on 15 June 2015 UK foreign office minister Hugo Swire called for his release in a parliamentary debate on the same day. Hansard http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150618/halltext/150618h0001.htm Free Tibet news story Pictures at https://www.flickr.com/photos/freetibetorg/sets/72157655404795759