Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

ICT Germany (Berlin) – After repeated requests the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to an official EU demarche by informing the German Foreign Ministry of the prison location of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and indicating that his sentence to death with a two-year reprieve would be calculated from the date the judgement became final and could be commuted to a lesser sentence.

According to German officials, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is being held in Chuandong prison in Dazu district in eastern Sichuan province and is in good health.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry response also referred to Article 50 of the Chinese Criminal Law, which says that a death sentence can be commuted to life in prison if “no intentional crime during the period of suspension” is undertaken by the prisoner and that if “major meritorious service is truly performed, punishment shall be commuted to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 15 years but not more than 20 years.”

Article 50 also provides that “if it is verified that [he] has committed an intentional crime, the death penalty shall be executed upon verification and approval of the Supreme People’s Court.”

“The International Campaign for Tibet is calling on the government of Germany to use its considerable influence with the government of China to secure the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche immediately,” said Dr. Gudrun Henne, Executive Director of ICT Germany

Article 51 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China states that the term for suspending execution commences on the date the judgement becomes final. In the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, this was on January 26, 2003, when the Provincial Higher People’s Court affirmed the verdict and rejected his appeal.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was arrested on April 7, 2002. Following months of solitary confinement and non-transparent legal proceedings, he was sentenced to death on charges of “conspiring to cause a series of explosions” and “incitement to separatism,” along with an alleged accomplice, Lobsang Dhondup.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death penalty was suspended for two years. Lobsang Dhondup was executed the very same day, January 26, 2003. The Chinese government disregarded its promise to the European Union and the United States government that no sentence would be carried out until a lengthy review had been undertaken.

Absent proof of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s alleged criminal activity, it appears that his arrest and conviction were motivated by his considerable influence within the Tibetan community and his assertion of Tibetan cultural and religious traditions, including reverence for the Dalai Lama.