Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Tibet groups throughout the free world are observed International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2002 by drawing attention to the case of two Tibetans, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Lobsang Dhondup who have been sentenced to death by the Chinese authorities.

There is no independent information about the extent of legal assistance that the two Tibetans have received in the course of the trial, in which the two Tibetans were charged in connection with an April bomb blast.

As such, there is much concern that they have been sentenced to death in an apparently unfair trial.

Candle light vigils, rallies, fax, email and signature campaigns have been launched to pressure China to provide a fair trial to the two Tibetans.

In Washington, D.C. The Capital Area Tibetan Association organized a peaceful vigil for these Tibetans and for Human Rights in Tibet on December 10th in front of the Chinese Embassy.

According to Amnesty International, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had come under suspicion from the local authorities for several years prior to his arrest. The authorities reportedly tried to arrest him in 1998 when he tried to establish monasteries without official approval.

He also attracted the attention of the authorities for leading a popular local protest against deforestation in the area by a local timber company. In this context, there are serious concerns that he may have been targeted by the authorities for his peaceful religious and community activities rather than any violent offences.

Official reports said that “separatist” leaflets calling for Tibetan independence from China were found at the scene of the blast.

The circumstances of Lobsang Dhondup’s detention remain unclear. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was reportedly held incommunicado for eight months from the time of his arrest until the time of the trial. There are concerns that he may have been tortured or ill-treated in detention and that the trial was unfair.

Amnesty also said that this is the first reported case for many years of death sentences being passed against Tibetans for alleged political offences. There are serious concerns that this case could signal a move by the authorities to extend the use of the death penalty against those branded as political opponents, “separatists” or “terrorists” in ethnic Tibetan areas.

The death penalty is used arbitrarily and extensively in China to punish what the Chinese govenment views as political interference.

In 2002 the Chinese government released some Tibetan political prisoners from the growing international pressure. However, abuse of Tibetan human rights by the Chinese government still continues. Tibetans are persecuted wantonly and sentenced without fair trial or legal defense facilities.

Several hundred Tibetans continue to remain incarcerated for nothing more than calling for the Chinese government to respect their basic human rights as enshrined in the UN Human Rights Declaration.

The United States will resume its human rights dialogue with China next week. The United States should take the opportunity to press China to release all political prisoners, including Tibetans, and to conform to its human rights declaration. China should provide Trulku Tenzin Delek and Lobsang Dhondup fair trial.