Calling for the immediate release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Human Rights Watch has released a 108-page report on the popular Buddhist leader that China has sentenced to death, the legal process that led to his sentence, and the impact on the local Tibetan community of his work, arrest, and absence.
The International Campaign for Tibet commends this timely report to anyone who wishes to understand the current situation, especially policymakers who prepare their governments’ positions at the U.N. Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva this spring.
The report, “Trials of a Tibetan Monk: The Case of Tenzin Delek,” documents how government officials sought to silence Tenzin Delek Rinpoche for more than a decade.
Officials limited his right to move about, to meet and speak freely with his followers and practice his religious beliefs. At least twice, in 1997 and 2000, he fled to the nearby mountains to escape arrest.
The crackdown on Tenzin Delek Rinpoche also targeted the residents of Nyagchu county, Tenzin Delek’s home area, who rallied around the popular lama. Between April 2002 and January 2003 alone, police interrogated some 60 Tibetan community members. More than 100 residents fled because they feared rough treatment and imprisonment. At least six of Tenzin Delek’s supporters were sentenced to jail; two received harsh sentences for associating with the lama.
In his own words, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche describes the struggle for a modern Tibet within a political system that cannot tolerate divergent interests: “I have always carried out my work within one country, meaning the People’s Republic of China. The work I have undertaken has been to unite people, to develop their welfare, to protect the environment, to promote economic development for the people, and to promote education”. Everything I did, they considered a crime.
“Recently, I was called to the Religious Affairs Bureau and the United Front Work Department. They told me, ‘You cannot have photos of the 14th Dalai Lama, the young Panchen Lama, or pictures of yourself.’ And they said, ‘The pictures are getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and you cannot do that. And you cannot have a lama’s title.’ I told them…that I did not need the title of lama; I did not need the title of monk, but I did need the rights of a human being.”
“Unexpectedly, I received a call from Public Security officials who ordered me to go to the police station in Dartsedo alone without telling anyone…but I don’t want to go there quietly by myself without telling anyone. They can just come and arrest me. My arrest can be announced publicly from loudspeakers on top of a car. They can come with chains. If I have committed crimes, they should come and arrest me this way. I would not let anyone protest.”