Join our Mailing List

"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Tibetans defy security crackdown to demonstrate in support of imprisoned Tibetan lama

December 19, 2009

ICT report, December 17, 2009

Security has been stepped up in of the Tibetan area of Kham, part of
present-day Sichuan province, and dozens of Tibetans have been detained
and beaten after peaceful demonstrations in support of the imprisoned
Tibetan lama, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, a highly respected religious
teacher serving a life sentence. Increased numbers of armed police and
troops have been stationed in towns and villages where protests occurred
- in an area that is already tense since demonstrations against Chinese
rule spread across Tibet in March 2008. The movement of people in
protest areas is now restricted and in one area soldiers have warned
local people that they will shoot to kill if necessary.

Following peaceful protests involving hundreds of people on December 5,
2009, a group of local lamas appealed to the county government to allow
local people to see Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, fearing that if this request
was not granted, Tibetans in the area might ?rise up in protest,?
according to a Tibetan in exile who is in contact with several local
Tibetans. The authorities offered some concessions as a result although
it is not known if they will be implemented. At least 20 Tibetans remain
in detention and according to sources in the area, all detainees were
?mercilessly beaten,? leaving many injured and hospitalized.

The risks that Tibetans in Kham continue to take during a time of
crackdown in Tibet are indicative of the influence and popularity of
Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche ? among both the Tibetan community and many
Chinese Buddhists - and what he represents. Before his detention in 2002
on alleged bombing charges which he denies, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche
founded schools for nomad children, set up elderly people?s homes,
worked with local officials to protect forests and was well-known for
his efforts to preserve Tibetan culture. Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche is being
held in Mianyang Prison in Sichuan and there are fears for his welfare
as his health is poor. One report indicates that his life sentence may
have been reduced to a fixed term sentence of 20 years, which means
there is a possibility of a reduction in the sentence, but this could
not be confirmed.

Update on protests in support of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche

The demonstrations in Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s home area are the latest
in a series of bold representations to the authorities in support of the
Tibetan lama over several years. Towards the end of November 2009, a
group of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s relatives and friends traveled to
Beijing to request the central government for a further review of the
case. It is not known how the authorities responded to this appeal. A
further Tibetan source states that having been assured by officials in
Beijing that the case would be looked at, the petitioners were urged to
return to Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan.

A government official confirmed that petitioners had been to Beijing and
Chengdu to appeal to the authorities, but said that all of them had been
?persuaded home? and ?no one was detained.?
(http://china.globaltimes.cn/society/2009-12/490861.html, December 10).

Local people in his home area heard about the visit to Beijing,
according to several sources, and decided to take action themselves on
Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s behalf.

On December 5, 2009, a group of around 90 people, men and women, from
various villages in Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s home area of Kardze
(Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan began to
travel towards Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang) county town in cars and on
motorbikes to call for the release of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, according
to several Tibetan sources. The Tibetans in the group were stopped at
different points on the way, although some were able to reach the office
of the county government building in Nyagchuka itself.

A Tibetan source with contacts in the area said: ?They [the Tibetans]
told officials that without the presence of Tulku [a reincarnate lama]
Tenzin Deleg, there were more thieves, trouble makers, hunters and
alcoholics in their region and it was going downhill. Without him, there
was nothing the government could do to improve the situation, and so he
should be released. When many of these people made their request on
bended knees and with their palms joined, the officials said that it
would be alright to give them permission to visit Tulku [Tenzin Deleg
Rinpoche]. At that, the older people said that that was fine and made
ready to return home, but the young people lay down blocking the main
road, saying that if they were to be permitted to visit, they should be
allowed to go that very day, because they did not believe the promise
would be honored if deferred. They said that their Lama was innocent,
that he had been falsely accused, that if the government had any proof
that he was involved in a bombing, they should produce it. After that,
many police came and beat them severely, many people were seriously
injured, and the ground turned red with blood. Five people had broken
arms and legs, and many of their motorcycles were trashed. They were
56-year old Lhamo Choedrup, Ashar, Dukar Tsering, Dondrup and Jinpa, all
from Bardrong. One of them was said to have had his ribs broken.?

A second Tibetan source said in a Chinese language blog: ?The Tibetans
were beaten extremely cruelly, and there was blood on the ground and
their hair was torn out, and some even had their teeth knocked out.?

Around 70 people in the group, both men and women, were detained in a
newly built detention facility at Gara, approximately four kilometers
from the town, according to the same source. Several hundred people from
villages including Orthok, Khalo and Tségon, from Tar-ngoe, Drépadé,
Gyasho, Détsa and Golo in the Nyagchu valley, and from villages nearby
the county town then gathered in their support outside the county
government building, calling for Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s release,
according to the same source, backed up by other Tibetan sources. These
Tibetans sat outside all night, some outside the police station, despite
the severe cold. The same Tibetan source said: ?Their main demand was to
meet Tulku Tenzin Deleg in person, wherever he is, and for the unjust
life sentence passed on him to be justly reviewed.?

Tibetans in the area say that there should be a new hearing on the basis
of three points: that there is no proof against Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche,
that he refuses to admit any guilt, and that he was framed by an
official plot. A petition presented to the authorities and signed by
thousands of Tibetans, often with a thumbprint, in Tenzin Deleg
Rinpoche?s home area, concludes: ?There does not exist any proof with
regards to A?an Zhaxi?s [Chinese transliteration for Tenzin Deleg
Rinpoche?s lay name] sentence, there exists no confession, it is only an
act of retaliation of the local authorities against A?an Zhaxi. It is a
set-up, a frame-up and an entirely fabricated case. If you are out to
condemn somebody, you can always find a charge. If this case is not
solved justly, our Zirui region, A?an Zhaxi?s relatives and all the
people who follow him, regardless of whether the poor turn into beggars,
whether men or women, they will definitely not stop appealing for
justice. Thus, we sincerely hope that the impartial law of the central
government will make its way into this place which is shrouded in the
dense fog of conspiracy.? (The full text of the petition, translated
into English by the blog High Peaks Pure Earth is included below).

Locals interviewed on the telephone by Associated Press on December 7,
2009, confirmed that the protests had taken place, and confirmed that
there was a greatly increased paramilitary police presence in the area.

Sources who spoke to Tibet Post, a newspaper run by Tibetan exiles in
India, said residents of the area insisted they were not ?anti-China?
and had no political agenda, but without Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s
guidance and authority in the community, people were ?like children
without parents.?

Imprisoned in December 2002, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche was convicted amid
concerns he had been tortured to extort a confession and following a
trial that was condemned around the world for falling far short of
minimum fair trial standards. Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s death sentence was
commuted to life imprisonment following a statutory two-year period of
suspension, but his co-defendant, Lobsang Dhondup, was executed in early
2003 moments after his appeal was rejected.

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche ?framed? according to petition

The petition in support of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche dated July 15, 2009
asserts that he was framed by local authorities because his work and his
standing in the community were sidelining local government authority, as
well as impeding deeply unpopular government-backed enterprises such as
large-scale logging operations in the area. The petition also recalls
how prior to his eventual detention in April 2002, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche
had twice gone into hiding fearing he was about to be detained by
aggrieved local officials. The petition, reproduced below, details the
respect and reverence that Tibetans in Nyagchuka and the surrounding
areas have for Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, in particular for his religious
and social teachings in the community including his efforts to build and
rebuild monasteries destroyed prior to and during the Cultural Revolution.

Scans of several pages apparently taken from the petition ? or possibly
from one or several more petitions circulating in support of Tenzin
Deleg Rinpoche ? have been posted on the Internet. The images show pages
in handwritten Tibetan headed with ?Tenzin Deleg is innocent. We hope to
appeal,? beneath which are columns of thumbprints followed by
handwritten statements clearly identifying individuals and their families.

Attempts to convince authorities at the local, provincial and national
levels to re-examine the case against Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche have been
ongoing since at least April-May 2007, when according to sources there
was a small demonstration by people in Lithang demanding permission to
visit him in prison. It is understood that previously, no one had been
allowed to visit him in prison at all ? at that point he had already
spent over five years behind bars. People?s demands to visit him were
initially refused, although members of his family were eventually
allowed to see him.

In April 2007, according to a Tibetan source with contacts in the area,
nine women from Horlung township in Nyakchuka county, led by Apa Pumo,
staged a sit-in outside the government office, and presented a petition.
Following this action several of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s relatives were
allowed to visit him. Government officials had told the Tibetan lama
that no one in the community or his relatives had wanted to see him.
According to Tibetan sources, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche re-affirmed his
innocence and said that he had been told to denounce the Dalai Lama.

In July 2007, several thousand local people signed a further petition to
be taken to Beijing in an attempt to lodge an appeal against Tenzin
Deleg Rinpoche?s sentence. A small Tibetan group planning to take the
petition to Beijing was stopped and detained, which led to a further
protest by people in Horlung township for their release. According to
the same Tibetan source, ?They said that Tenzin Deleg was a lama who had
the people?s trust, that he could not possibly have planted a bomb, he
had been falsely accused, and the matter had to be rectified.? Armed
police broke up the protest and later there was a buildup of troops in
the area. Local people were told by officials that if there was a
popular protest, it would be crushed.

The Tibetan woman involved in the protest, Apa Pumo, was held for
several weeks and became very ill in prison.

Following the latest protests, last weekend a group of local Tibetan
lamas appealed to the county government to grant the people?s wish to
meet Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. The local authorities apparently stated that
some Tibetans would be allowed to visit Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche each
month, that those wounded during the demonstrations would be treated,
and that compensation would be given for motorbikes that had been
destroyed during the breaking up of the protests by police. According to
the Tibetan source in contact with people in the area, among around 20
Tibetans still in detention are Tsering Dondrup, Sherab Drolma, Tenzin
Trinlé, Tsering, Losang Wangchuk, Jinpa and Jamdro.

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche tortured while in detention

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche and at least four other monks were taken into
detention on April 7, 2002, four days after Lobsang Dhondup?s detention.
According to several reports, the PRC authorities denied both men access
to visitors and legal counsel, and subjected them to coercive methods of
interrogation including beating and torture during the  ?investigation?
phase of detention at the Kangding Police Detention Center. According to
Tibetan sources, among the torture he endured was being suspended in the
?airplane? position where a person is hung from the ceiling or door
frame by their arms extended out behind them.

The PRC authorities had assured a U.S. government delegation headed by
Lorne Craner, the then Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human
Rights and Labor, that the Supreme People?s Court would undertake a
?lengthy? judicial review of Lobsang Dhondup?s death sentence. But
instead Lobsang Dhondup was executed soon after his death sentence was
approved by a Sunday session of the Sichuan Province High People?s Court.

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche maintains that he did not confess to any of the
charges against him. During his sentencing, which was attended by two of
his family members, he reportedly declared the trial unfair, rejected
all charges against him, and proclaimed his innocence before being
removed from the court. In a tape smuggled out of prison in January
2003, whilst he was awaiting the outcome of an appeal, he said,
?Whatever [the authorities] do and say, I am completely innocent. I was
wrongly accused because I have always been sincere and devoted to the
interests and well-being of Tibetans. The Chinese did not like what I
did and what I said. That is the only reason why I was arrested. I have
always said we should not raise our hands at others. It is sinful. I
have neither distributed letters or pamphlets nor planned bombs
secretly. I have never even thought of such things and I have no
intention to hurt others.? Following the trial, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche
appealed his conviction.

Police apprehended Tibetan residents of Nyagchuka County who were
raising funds to pay for Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche?s legal defense or who
were otherwise seen as being closely linked to Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche.
The Chinese authorities have not provided any information about the
evidence underlying the convictions or the manner in which such evidence
was obtained.

When Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche was detained, tried and convicted over the
six-month period from April to December 2002, a member of the PRC?s
eight person Politburo, Zhou Yongkang, was serving as Party Secretary of
Sichuan province. Zhou went on to serve as Minister for Public Security,
and he currently chairs the Central Politics and Law Committee, the main
Party instrument for overseeing implementation of the law throughout the
PRC.

A full translation of the petition signed by local people in support of
Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche is at
http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/2009/12/from-woesers-blog-people-of-yajiang-in.html
and included in full below. The original was in Tibetan and translated
into Chinese, and a copy can be viewed on the blog
http://woeser.middle-way.net/2009/12/blog-post_9787.html.

?We Do Not Recognise the Verdict Against A?an Zhaxi: We Want to Have a
New Hearing with Regards to the Charges in the Explosion Case

A?an Zhaxi (A-ngag Tashi, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche) was born in 1949 in the
village of Degu, Lithang County in the Ganzi Prefecture. In 1983 he was
identified as the reincarnation of the Yajiang County?s Orthok
Monastery?s Lama Adong Phuntsok. Starting in 1987, he constructed Orthok
Monastery, Nyagchu Jamyang Choekhorling, Tsochu Ganden Choeling, Golog
Tashikyil, Tsun-gon Dechen Choeling and many more monasteries. A?an
Zhaxi always taught people not to kill, not to steal, not to tell lies,
not to shoot animals, not to gamble, and he also formulated religious
tenets. This embodied a great benefit for the people in the monasteries
and in the area. Hence, in comparison to other Lamas, the local people
particularly trusted and respected A?an Zhaxi.

On 7 April 2002, A?an Zhaxi was arrested by Ganzi Yajiang County Police
accused of being one of the hidden instigators responsible for the
explosion on Tianfu Square in Chengdu. On 2 December 2002, Ganzi
Prefecture?s Intermediate People?s Court sentenced A?an Zhaxi to death
with the sentence suspended for two years. Two years later, some said
that his sentence had already been changed to life imprisonment and
others said that there was no sentence at all, opinions were widely
divided. But his family and religious followers had never seen the
official court verdict or any notice concerning his case. Hence, there
was no way of verifying the details.

The case against Lobsang Dhondup installing the explosives on Tianfu
Square and A?an Zhaxi being the wirepuller is a set-up, it is an act of
retaliation by the evil officials and lacks any proof or confessions.

Nowhere and at no time have there been any witnesses confirming that
A?an Zhaxi actually worked out a plan for Lobsang Dhondup to set off an
explosion, and neither has there been any witness who has heard anything
about such plans. Moreover, Lobsang Dhondup has never admitted or
confessed that A?an Zhaxi worked out a plan for him to set off the
explosion. The reason for this is: one of Lobsang Dhondup?s fellow
prisoners, who used to share a cell with him, recalls Lobsang Dhondup
once saying to him that A?an Zhaxi has never planned anything for him
and he has also never officially declared or confessed that A?an Zhaxi
had worked out a plan for him. The reason why Yajiang County accused
A?an Zhaxi is because they say that he excavated a cave to store the
explosives and they also came up with groundless accusations such as
that he is not a real monk but they have not provided the people with
anything proving his guilt.

A?an Zhaxi himself refuses to admit his guilt Although there have been
many false stories claiming that A?an Zhaxi has already candidly
confessed everything, it is still rather obvious that he does not at all
admit his guilt. On 2 December 2002, when the Ganzi Prefecture?s
Intermediate People's Court spoke the verdict, in the presence of all,
A?an Zhaxi shouted out ?don?t say that I set up explosives, I have never
ever thought about this sort of thing?. Afterwards, A?an Zhaxi wrote in
a letter to Zirui?s people and his close relatives: ?I am not guilty,
please appeal for justice for me?. Moreover, at the end of 2008, when
A?an Zhaxi?s younger sister Dolkar Lhamo together with Zengtar and
Tsering Dekyi went to pay him a visit in prison, they also heard him
say: ?I absolutely did not work out any plans; I don?t even know of any
explosion, it would be very kind if you can appeal for justice.?
Especially on 11 July 2009, when Apapumu went to see A?an Zhaxi, he
said: ?I am not responsible for these explosions or any other illegal
actions, they have pinned this on me, I have always taught people that
one should not harm any life, not even that of an ant, how could I then
possibly be responsible for such an action? If it is possible to appeal,
there is hope that I may be cleared of all charges. When you leave
please go to Zirui for me, tell my relatives and all people of the six
Orthok groups, tell everyone that I hope to be cleared of all charges.
So, you are in charge, call all people together and do everything
possible to help me overturn the verdict.

Officials plotted to frame Even before the verdict in the case of the
explosion, Ganzi Prefecture and Yajiang County had often arrested A?an
Zhaxi. For example, from 1998 to 2000, twice in a row A?an Zhaxi had to
flee to the remote mountains to take refuge. In the very beginning when
he first established Orthok Monastery and Nyagchu Jamyang Choekhorling,
some officials of the Ganzi Prefecture, Yajiang County and Lithang
District deliberately made things difficult and obstructed the
construction of the monasteries, but because A?an Zhaxi went directly to
the great Panchen Lama for help, the prefecture, county and district
authorities had to give permission. Also, during the time when A?an
Zhaxi fled to the mountains for refuge, thousands of people signed or
put their fingerprints on a petition to the authorities to prove his
innocence. The appeal went all the way to the county, even to the
central government and in the end the authorities? attempt to arrest him
failed. When A?an Zhaxi returned to his home town he was happily
welcomed by thousands of people, who could not be pushed off the stage
by local authorities. Through this, mutual apprehension sharpened by the
day, the local authorities harboured more and more resentment against
A?an Zhaxi, he became the thorn in their side waiting for an opportunity
to retaliate. One 2 April 2002, they then arrested A?an Zhaxi accusing
him of being the mastermind behind the explosions on Tianfu Square in
Chengdu, but it is obvious that this is not true.

In conclusion, there does not exist any proof with regards to A?an
Zhaxi?s sentence, there exists no confession, it is only an act of
retaliation of the local authorities against A?an Zhaxi. It is a set-up,
a frame-up and an entirely fabricated case. If you are out to condemn
somebody, you can always find a charge. If this case is not solved
justly, our Zirui region, A?an Zhaxi?s relatives and all the people who
follow him, regardless of whether the poor turn into beggars, whether
men or women, they will definitely not stop appealing for justice. Thus,
we sincerely hope that the impartial law of the central government will
make its way into this place which is shrouded in the dense fog of
conspiracy.

15 July 2009

By the people of Yajiang County, Ganzi Prefecture, Sichuan Province

Press contact:?Kate Saunders?Communications Director, International
Campaign for Tibet?Email: press@savetibet.org?Tel: +44 (0) 7947 138612
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank