Ven. Luzi Tashi Phuntsok, a monk official of Jamyang Choekhorling Monastery in Karze (eastern Tibet presently under Sichuan Province) and an aide to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, was released on July 28, 2003, according to a report by the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). He was detained in April 2002.

Ven. Tashi Phuntsok, who was the disciplinarian of Jamyang Choekhorling Monastery and was serving seven years’ imprisonment sentence in Yakra Phuk Prison (Tib translit: gyag ra phuk), arrived in his monastery on July 30, 2003, TCHRD said in a statement on July 31, 2003. The monastery is in Nyakchuka County, in Karze.

He was arrested on April 17, 2002 from his monastery. In November 2002, the Karze People’s Intermediate Court sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment on alleged charges of colluding with Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a lama from Karze who received a suspended death sentence in December 2002 after being charged with involvement in a series of bomb explosions. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has denied the charge.

At the time of Ven. Tashi Phuntsok’s arrest, he was reportedly suffering from tuberculosis. Owing to ill treatment and lack of proper medical attention, his health deteriorated while in prison. When report last came to TCHRD, Ven.Tashi Phuntsok had developed critical health complications.

Ven. Luzi Tashi Phuntsok, 42, was born in Othok Village, Nyakchuka County. Being the disciplinarian of the monastery, he shouldered many responsibilities including organising prayer ceremonies and festivals. TCHRD said in 1993, he protested vehemently against the Chinese deforestation drive in his local area. It is said that Chinese authorities targeted Tenzin Delek Rinpoche for his popular social activities. The locals protested against his arrest and Ven. Tashi Phuntsok was one of the main protesters against the authorities, TCHRD said.

TCHRD registered 13 known arrest in connection with Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s case. As per current information received, except for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Tamdin Tsering (Tabo), all the others have been released after various prison terms and detentions, TCHRD said. Unconfirmed reports indicate that as many as 80 Tibetans were detained with some being released after two or three months while others after 10-20 days and some still in detention.

TCHRD has asked China to withdraw sentences on Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Tamdin Tsering and release them immediately. Both monks are believed to be falsely accused and held without proper legal representation.