Forty-seven Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom have urged their Government to pressure China to remove the death sentence on Tibetan Buddhist leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue beginning on November 9, 2003. The appeal is contained in an Early Day Motion (EDM) introduced by Annabelle Ewing, MP, on October 20, 2003.

The EDM says, “That this House deplores the death sentence facing the respected Buddhist religious leader, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, in Tibet that was handed down in an unfair trial on 2nd December 2002 and confirmed in a retrial in January; notes with concern that neither trial conformed to international fair trial standards; and that Rinpoche has been held incommunicado since January; further notes that this death sentence could be carried out by April 2004, or be commuted to a life sentence, which in itself constitutes a death sentence, given the prevalence of torture and poor prison conditions in Tibet; and calls upon the Government to put pressure on the Chinese authorities to remove the death sentence, particularly during the UK Human Rights Dialogue with China, scheduled for 9th to 10th November, thus allowing a fair and free retrial that allows international impartial observers.”

Early Day Motion is a notice of motion given by Members of Parliament to draw attention to an issue. It is not generally expected to be debated.

The 47 MPs belong to the following political parties: Conservative Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales ), Scottish National Party, and the Ulster Unionist Party.

The UK-China bilateral Human Rights Dialogue began in September 1997, and formal sessions are held twice a year, alternately in London and Beijing.

The British Government has said that through its Human Rights Dialogue with China it has “raised issues such as restrictions on freedom of religion, failure to safeguard Tibetan culture and traditions, the whereabouts and health of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima (the Dalai Lama’s choice as Panchen Lama), the mass migration of Han Chinese into Tibet and the environmental effects of rapid economic development.”

It has said the human rights situation in Tibet shows little sign of improvement.

The British Government has welcomed the visit to Beijing and Lhasa by representatives of the Dalai Lama and “continue to encourage the Chinese Government to enter into meaningful dialogue with the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibetan issue.” “The UK is also seeking, with EU partners, to identify additional ways of improving the situation in Tibet,” it said.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet in the UK is expected to discuss its action plan during its Annual General Meeting scheduled for November 18, 2003. The APPGT was set up “To put pressure on Her Majesty’s Government to encourage negotiations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and the government of Tibet in exile, whilst recognising that Tibet is an occupied country which had independent links with Britain.”