Chadrel Rinpoche

Chadrel Rinpoche

Chadrel Rinpoche, the imprisoned abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, who is believed to have been released in January 2002 following the completion of his sentence, is now reported to be under house arrest, according to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy (TCHRD).

In an April 22, 2003, report TCHRD quoted a reliable source as saying that Chadrel Rinpoche is under house arrest in an isolated vacation resort (Chinese: Dujia Cun) south of Dib military camp in Lhasa.

During a human rights dialogue in February 2001, the Chinese told the UK government that Chadrel Rinpoche had been sentenced in 1996 and was due for release in January 2002. However, no one has actually received news of his whereabouts following his release, said TCHRD

In February 2002, Palden, Vice Head of the Department of Public Security of the “Tibet Autonomous Region” and Dorjee, Vice Head of the Department of Police of Shigatse Prefecture reportedly came to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, seat of the Panchen Lamas. These men asked for the personal scriptures and rosary belonging to Chadrel Rinpoche without disclosing the reasons behind their request.

Chadrel Rinpoche is the former abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. Following the mysterious death of the 10th Panchen Lama in January 1989, the Chinese government appointed Chadrel Rinpoche Chairman of the Search Party Committee for the 11th Panchen Lama reincarnation. Based on a list of 30 possible candidates for the Panchen Lama, the Dalai Lama, after performing divinations to determine the identity of the reincarnation, officially declared Gedhun Choekyi Nyima the 11th Panchen Lama on May 14, 1995.

Two days after this pronouncement, Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, then six years old, disappeared and has not been seen since. Chadrel Rinpoche disappeared three days later on May 17, 1995. The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Chen Jian stated at the time that Chadrel Rinpoche was not in custody but was “ill and hospitalised”. During the course of these events, the Chinese government appointed another child as the Panchen Lama in December 1995.

The first official acknowledgment of the detention of Chadrel Rinpoche came two years later, in May 1997, through Xinhua, the official news agency of the Chinese government. It stated that the Shigatse Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment on April 21, 1997. Another conflicting report stated that he was sentenced to “six years’ imprisonment for ‘conspiring to split the country’ and ‘disclosing state secrets’ which would expire on January 9, 2000.” At the time, unofficial reports stated that Chadrel Rinpoche was detained in Trochu County (Ch: Heishui) and later transferred to Chuandong No. 3 Prison, Tazhu County, Sichuan Province.

The conflicting reports surrounding the prison term and his indefinite whereabouts indicate the political sensitivity of the case.

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