Tibetans and Tibet supporters have urged the United States delegation to raise the cases of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Lobsang Dhondup during its human rights dialogue with China, beginning in Beijing on December 17.

Lorne Craner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, is leading the U.S. delegation.

The two Tibetans were sentenced to death on December 2, 2002, for alleged involvement in a series of explosions in Chengdu and nearby areas. The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) wrote to Secretary Craner on December 5 urging him to raise the issue during the human rights dialogue and call for a fair trial and due process in their cases.

“The sentence of a prominent religious leader such as Ven. Tenzin Delek could not have been issued without the imprimatur of officials at a much higher level than the Karze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture,” ICT Executive Director Mary Beth Markey wrote to Craner.

“All reports concerning the trial and detention of Ven. Tenzin Delek and Lobsang Dhondup indicate that they were not given a fair trial and that the conditions of their detention violated established international norms,” Markey said.

“We have no doubt that the detention of this revered lama is politically motivated as well, and the severity of the sentence is a clear escalation of China’s control policy,” Markey continued.

ICT asked Craner to express the U.S. government’s concerns regarding these death sentences and to include the two Tibetans as high priority items on the U.S. political prisoner lists. Markey said the U.S. should insist that “the Chinese side address not only the timing but the substance of these outrageous sentences.”

The U.S. delegation also includes Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Ralph F. Boyd, and the U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom, John Hanford. The Chinese side is being led by Li Baodong, director-general of the International Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and chief Supreme Court justice Nan Ying.

On Wednesday the U.S. delegation travels to Xinjiang, where Secretary Craner will deliver a speech to university students.