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Sisters Visit Jailed Monk

June 18, 2010

A well-known Tibetan monk is said to be ailing in detention.
UPDATED AND EDITED AT 1530 EST TO CLARIFY CHINESE
LAW REGARDING THREATS TO NATIONAL SECURITY
Radio Free Asia
June 11, 2010

HONG KONG -- Two sisters of a prominent Tibetan
monk serving a life sentence in a Chinese jail
despite an international outcry have visited him
the southwestern province of Sichuan, where
supporters have repeatedly rallied in his defense.

"The two sisters met Tenzin Delek Rinpoche on
April 27, 2010," said a source from Lithang, a
Tibetan region of Sichuan province.

"They had been requesting to meet him for a long time."

The source said the sisters hurried to an
unspecified meeting place some 200 miles (320
kms) from the provincial capital, Chengdu, after
being informed of the meeting two days earlier.

A second source confirmed the visit.

"On April 25, 2010, the deputy governor and the
head prosecutor in Lithang county suddenly
appeared at the house of Sonam Dekyi and Dolkar,
the two sisters of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, and
informed them that they could see their brother," the second source indicated.

The sisters were told by prison authorities that
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had health problems, both sources said.

"When they met on April 27, the head of the
prison and the doctor informed the sisters that
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was suffering from ailments
related to bones, heart, and blood pressure," the
Tibetan source said in a written statement.

It added that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had recently
suffered a fall, possibly caused by his ill
health, according to the prison officials.

Commuted sentence

An initial death sentence handed down to Tenzin
Delek Rinpoche was commuted to life imprisonment
by the Sichuan provincial People's Court on Jan. 26, 2005.

He was accused of being linked to a series of
bombings in southwestern China in previous years,
but has always protested his innocence.

He has vocal and active support among the Tibetan
nomads of Lithang, whose protests are thought to
have prompted permission for the sisters' visit.

According to one Tibetan source, the two sisters
told their brother of their attempts to protest
his innocence to authorities in Beijing.

He urged them to continue, saying he too had sent
letters to 26 government departments.

Several sources said Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had
played down reports of his ill-health, and that
his sisters had said he looked reasonably well.

"I think that the two sisters were allowed to see
him because of promises [the Chinese authorities]
made when there were huge rallies of local
Tibetans in support of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in
Lithang and Nyakchukha in December 2009," said an
exiled Tibetan source from Lithang, now based at
the Drepung monastery in southern India.

Dozens of Tibetan youths staged protests in
Lithang in early December 2009 to appeal for
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's release, leading to
dozens of detentions and clashes with police,
sources in the region said at the time.

The protests prompted a huge influx of Chinese
security forces into Nyakchukha and Lithang ahead
of a major annual horse-racing festival, the site of previous unrest.

Relative executed

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was sentenced to death in
December 2002 along with a relative, Lobsang
Dhondup, who was executed almost immediately.

Under Chinese law, anyone convicted of
"endangering state security," a category that
includes politically motivated charges such as
"splittism" and "subversion," can face execution
if the circumstances are serious.

But the law provides some exceptions. "Inciting
splittism," one of the charges against Lobsang
Dondrub and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, is one such exception.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, based at a monastery in
nomad-dominated Othok, was granted a two-year
reprieve, then had his sentence commuted to life in 2005.

In 2004, New York-based Human Rights Watch
accused the Chinese authorities of persecuting
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and said his case
highlighted ongoing strictures placed on Tibetans in China.

Human Rights Watch has called for the immediate
release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche pending a new
trial conforming to international standards.

Original reporting by RFA's Tibetan service.
Director: Jigme Ngapo. Translated from the
Tibetan by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by
Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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