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World governments decry death in custody of Tibetan scholar, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

July 20, 2015

World Tibet News, July 17, 2015: Following news this week that prominent political prisoner, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, had died in a Chinese prison, world governments and non-governmental organizations were quick to issue statements of concern and demands that Chinese authorities return the body to Rinpoche’s family or monastery so that traditional religious services could take place.  Despite their efforts, the body was cremated in the prison facility where Rinpoche had apparently been imprisoned.

The government statements are compiled below.

The death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche came even as China was in the news for an unprecedented crackdown on human rights lawyers.  Police detained more than 100 lawyers within a few days prompting numerous statements by Western governments including from Canada’s Ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques.  Saint-Jacques’ statement calling for China to “respect the rule of law” was posted on the Embassy of Canada website which normally avoids such overt criticism of China.

These developments come even as President Xi Jinping is scheduled to make an official visit to Washington in September 2015 and as China approaches the interim review of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the UN’s regularly-scheduled monitoring of human rights compliance.

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Canada, July 13, 2015

Ambassador Bennett Deeply Saddened by Death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Ottawa, Ontario - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada - Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, today issued the following statement:

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, the Tibetan monk who died Sunday in Chuandong prison in Chengdu. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family and community.

“Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was widely regarded for his spiritual leadership and his tireless work in providing religious, health and social services to Tibetan nomads.

“This is a time for mourning so that all may mark his death with dignity and respect. I respectfully request that Chinese officials return the body of this revered person to his family, and that Buddhist traditions be respected.”

United States of America, July 13, 2015

Death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Press Statement: John Kirby, Department Spokesperson, Washington, DC

We are saddened to learn that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a Tibetan lama who has been a political prisoner since 2002, has died in prison. We express our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and supporters.

The United States had consistently urged China to release Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, most recently out of concern for his health. We hope Chinese authorities will investigate and make public the circumstances surrounding his death.

We urge Chinese authorities to return his body to his family or to his monastery so that customary religious rituals can be properly performed.

European Union, July 15, 2015

Statement by the Spokesperson on recent developments in the human rights situation in China

The recent systematic arrest of a number of human rights lawyers and human rights defenders by Chinese public security forces raises serious questions about China's commitment to strengthening the rule of law.

The Chinese authorities should abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, respect the rights of all citizens as recognised by the Chinese Constitution and release all those detained for seeking to protect these rights.

Following the death in prison of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a Tibetan lama who has been a prisoner since 2002, we express our deepest condolences to his family, friends and supporters. The EU had consistently called for his release or adequate medical treatment. We expect the Chinese authorities to investigate and make public the circumstances surrounding his death.

Germany, July 15, 2015

German Human Rights Commissioner on Death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Statement by Christoph Strässer, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid:

“I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of the Tibetan monk and civil rights activist Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. He enjoyed considerable support around the globe. Since his imprisonment and conviction in 2002, numerous politicians as well as many private individuals in different parts of the world have appealed for his release.

Over the years, the German Government and the EU called repeatedly for him to be given medical treatment and released from prison on humanitarian grounds. The concern about Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s health and the appeal that he receives adequate medical care were expressed on many occasions during high-level talks with the Chinese Government. Furthermore, information was requested on his prison conditions. Unfortunately, these efforts were in vain. We extend our deepest sympathy to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s family and friends, as well as to his numerous supporters.

I urge China to ensure that all prisoners receive medical care, which should not be used as a means of putting pressure on prisoners or their families. Following the death of the activist Cao Shunli in prison in March 2014, the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is another indication that the Chinese authorities are prepared to risk the deaths of imprisoned activists by denying adequate medical care. We are deeply concerned about this development, which violates key humanitarian principles.”

United Kingdom, July 13, 2015

Statement made by a government media spokesperson in an interview with Reuters

"We are saddened by reports that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has died in detention in China," a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement [to Reuters].

"We raised his case with Chinese authorities on a number of occasions, including during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in April this year."

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