In the last several weeks, 67 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 12 Senators have signed on to two letters to China’s Vice President Hu Jintao condemning the execution of Lobsang Dhondup and expressing concern for the safety of other Tibetans detained in connection with this high-profile case. The letters will be sent to the Chinese vice president some time in the next week.

Congressmen Steven Rothman (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) sponsored a letter in the House of Representatives, and Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) sponsored a similar letter in the Senate. The text of the House letter appears below:

Mr. Hu Jintao
Vice President
People’s Republic of China
Beijing, PRC

Dear Vice President Hu:

We are writing to express our concerns regarding the execution of Mr. Lobsang Dhondup, the confirmation of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death sentence, and the disposition of ten other Tibetans who were arrested in connection with these cases.

In April 2002, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Lobsang Dhondup were arrested and charged with involvement in a series of bombings in Kandze and Chengdu. Both were sentenced to death in December 2002. On January 25, 2003, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s appeal was denied in a secret hearing by the Sichuan Higher People’s Court. The following day, Lobsang Dhondup was reportedly executed. Since April 2002, a total of twelve people have been arrested in connection with this case, including Tserang Dondrup, who was sentenced to five years in prison. Four persons remain in detention without trial. There are credible reports that they have all suffered torture while in detention, and all trials have been held under highly restrictive conditions. The accused were also held incommunicado and denied legal counsel of their choosing.

It is our understanding that the U.S. State Department has made numerous representations to your government regarding these cases, and was repeatedly told that the appeal process would be lengthy and comprehensive. Unfortunately, your government denied all requests by the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu to observe the legal proceedings.

We are deeply concerned by reports that the judicial proceedings against these men did not meet United Nations’ minimum standards of due process, and that these persons have been subjected to mistreatment under detention. We are gravely concerned about the health of these individuals, especially in light of the allegations of torture. Based on the manner in which these cases have been handled, we have good reason to believe that these prosecutions are political in nature. Such abuses of judicial processes are inimical to China’s efforts to join the community of nations and are a strain on U.S.-China relations. We are further concerned by reports that your government may have been disingenuous in its dealings with U.S. Government representatives who expressed concerns about these individuals. Such actions are not conducive to good U.S.-China relations.

We strongly encourage you to review these cases and ensure these individuals are provided minimum guarantees of due process, including: freedom from torture or mistreatment, freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention, and the right to fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. We also urge your government to commute Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Tserang Dondrup’s sentences, and release the others currently being held in connection with this case. Such a humanitarian gesture would help to restore our government’s faith in China’s sincerity regarding the bilateral human rights dialogue and other issues of mutual concern.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent matter. We look forward to your favorable response.

[Signed by Members of Congress]

ICT Thanks all of the ICT members and others who asked their Members of Congress to sign on to these letters!