The date for sentencing an important Tibetan lama being defended by two prominent Chinese civil rights lawyers has been deferred, according to sources in China. Phurbu Rinpoche, a highly respected religious leader from Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) in Sichuan province (the Tibetan area of Kham) was detained in May 2008 and is being charged with weapons’ possession.
The two Chinese lawyers defending him say that serious violations of Chinese law have occurred during his case and that the charges against him “lack factual clarity and sufficient evidence”. Nonetheless, they fear that he faces a long prison sentence. Phurbu Rinpoche remains in custody and has been tortured, according to his lawyers. A verdict was due to be announced on April 28 but is now postponed according to the two lawyers, who received a phone call from the Deputy Director of the court in Kangding. Lawyer Li Fangping told the London Times on April 27: “They notified me that the date to announce a verdict had been postponed. There is no new date. They said they would let me know in due course.”
In a document presented to the court, which is translated below in full into English, the two Chinese lawyers Li Fangping and Jiang Tianyong say that “taking criminal measures” against Phurbu Rinpoche, “who is very influential locally and who is broadly respected, would be detrimental to upholding local unity of the nationalities.”
This is the first known prosecution of a prominent Tibetan religious leader since protests began across Tibet in March 2008, and the first time that a defendant in a case connected to the protests is known to have been represented by lawyers not assigned by the state but chosen by the defendant or his/her family. Fifty-two year old Phurbu Rinpoche was detained in May 2008 a few days after some 80 nuns from the nunnery he heads, Pangri, held a peaceful protest.
A scholar who knows Phurbu Rinpoche and has visited the nunnery said: “Due to his religious status, Phurbu Rinpoche’s concern for his country and people generated a sincere sense of responsibility. He once told me that it was in order to fulfill his urge to do something for his people that he established a small nunnery that would give renewed luster to his century-old lineage and the thousand-year old religious culture of Tibet. Thanks to private donations and support from the local populace, he finally built the Pangri nunnery in Singo village just outside Kardze town. Although he is a lay teacher, he is very attentive to the education of the nuns who not only study under the supervision of a local spiritual leader and Phurbu Rinpoche himself, but also receive more specific instructions by other prestigious masters who visit them regularly from neighboring monasteries.”
In their statement, lawyers Li Fangping and Jiang Tianyong say that following his detention, due to harsh interrogation, Phurbu Rinpoche “had no option but to go against his will and confess”. The lawyers, in a statement dated April 21, 2009, say: “According to verifications in court, when the defendant was arraigned at Luhuo [Drango County in Kardze TAP, Sichuan Province] Detention Center, he was handcuffed by an alternating hand each day to an iron pillar in the interrogation room, and with arms outstretched and unable to sit down he was interrogated continuously for four days and four nights by a team of six people in three units of two people; at the same time the defendant was told that if he did not confess that the weapons and explosive were his, then his wife and son would be detained. Under such harsh interrogation the defendant had no option but to go against his will and ‘confess without reservation.’ But such a ‘confession without reservation’ garnered under conditions of such torture and terrifying threats gave rise to the numerous contradictions mentioned previously. [See below for a full translation of the lawyers’ statement.] Anything attained under such torture and such terrifying threats is not only not factual, it is also in serious breach of the Criminal Procedure Law and the provisions of legal explanations [occasional supplementary rulings issued by the Supreme People’s Court]; it also contravenes the ’Procedural Regulations for Public Security Organs Handling of Criminal Cases,” and is a serious breach of procedure.”
Information on the torture of Phurbu Rinpoche and the harsh conditions he has faced while in detention comes to light only two weeks after China released its ‘National Human Rights Action Plan’, in which China pledges to address key human rights issues, including prohibiting forced confessions by torture and the mistreatment of detainees.
The source who knows Phurbu Rinpoche well and asked to remain anonymous said that while Rinpoche was deeply concerned about changes in Tibet and Tibetan culture, “He never attacked nor criticized the Chinese government or the local authorities with whom he has always tried to maintain a healthy and mutually respectful dialogue. He has always been interested in finding compromises rather than aiming at harsh and aggressive resolutions.”
During the April 21 trial in Kangding (Tibetan: Dartsedo), a Tibetan area of Sichuan province, Phurbu Rinpoche, speaking in Chinese, denied the two charges against him, saying that the gun and bullets found in his home had been put there to frame him. Lawyer Li Fangping said that the court had made no investigation into where the weapons and ammunition had come from.
The second lawyer representing Phurbu Rinpoche, Jiang Tianyong, was one of 21 Chinese lawyers who co-signed a public statement on April 1, 2008, offering to provide legal defense in accordance with Chinese law to Tibetans who were arrested in connection with the protests that broke out last year in Tibetan areas. The Chinese authorities immediately warned the group not to get involved in events related to Tibet, threatening that their law firms would be shut down and that their licenses to practice law could be revoked.
Li Fangping and Jiang Tianyong say in their statement that Phurbu Rinpoche “is a religious personage who loves the country and loves religion” who “has also actively contributed ideas and policy suggestions on development in Ganzi, and frequently offered critiques on existing problems in development; all of which is a manifestation of his love of the country and love of his home town.”
Phurbu Rinpoche, an incarnate lama of Trehor Kardze monastery who lives in Dragyab village, Kardze, was taken into custody on May 18, 2008. This was four days after some 80 nuns from Pangri nunnery, in Singo township, Kardze, staged a demonstration, voicing their distress at the crackdown, detentions and disappearances that have followed peaceful protests in different areas of Tibet, as well as resentment against the implementation of the ‘patriotic education’ campaign by the Chinese authorities.
According to an interview by Beijing-based journalist Paul Mooney with the well-known Tibetan writer Woeser, at least a dozen of these nuns have been sentenced for unknown crimes, and six are still being detained (April 23, 2009.) Woeser said: “Since the Lhasa incident last March, this is the first trial of a Living Buddha. The authorities want to scare other Living Buddhas by doing this, but I think that’s a mistake. Capturing this kind of Living Buddha will cause a place like this to never be at peace again.” (‘Living Buddha’ is a translation of the Chinese word used to mean ‘tulku’, or reincarnate lama.)
In a blog reproduced in the Asian Wall Street Journal, Woeser wrote about the April 21 trial as follows: “Buramna [Phurbu] Rinpoche appeared in court wearing the bright yellow and crimson red vestments of a Tibetan monk. Seven members of his family, including his wife and son, were in the court, some crying throughout the trial. Speaking in Chinese, the Living Buddha denied the two alleged crimes, vehemently arguing that the weapons and ammunition found at his home had been planted there to frame him.” (Justice Denied for Tibetans: The ‘trial’ of a monk highlights Beijing’s repression, April 27, 2009, Asian Wall Street Journal.)
More than 20 old men and women live in an old people’s home founded by Phurbu Rinpoche, and he has also adopted many orphans and disabled children and provided the opportunity for children of poor families to go to school.
Concerning the charge related to “illegally occupying state property”, Phurbu Rinpoche’s lawyers argued that he had already legally acquired state-owned land-use rights, and defining his management of the old people’s home “as the crime of occupying state property is a failure of common sense as well as inhumane and irrational!” Phurbu Rinpoche’s many Chinese devotees set up a website to support his work: http://www.burongna.net/.
In a personal account of Phurbu Rinpoche provided to ICT and included in full below, the scholar (who is no longer in Tibet) wrote: “Panrina [Phurbu] Rinpoche’s compassion and social engagement have always been acknowledged and respected by Tibetans in Kardze. His concerns were also especially directed towards children’s health and education. For a few years, he also personally took care of a young mentally challenged ethnic Chinese child apparently abandoned by his parents at a very young age. While waiting for local authorities to agree on the appropriate measure, Panrina Rinpoche took the young child home where he lived for a couple of years and showered him with attention and affection. He personally attended to the child’s home tutoring, reflecting Panrina Rinpoche’s indiscriminate attention to children and lack of hatred for the Chinese.”
Statement by lawyer Li Fangping from the Beijing Municipality Ruifeng Law Office and lawyer Jiang Tianyong from the Beijing Municipality Gaobo Longhua Law Office on the case of Phurbu Rinpoche
Translation by ICT from the original Chinese
Argument for the defense
Respected collegiate panel of judges:
Upon receipt of a commission by the family of Living Buddha Buronglang [Tib: Buramna] [Phurbu Rinpoche], Ruifeng Law Offices in Beijing Municipality assigned the lawyer Li Fangping and Gaobo Longhua Law Offices in Beijing Municipality assigned the lawyer Jiang Tianyong to appear in court on behalf of the defendant Living Buddha Buronglang and to argue in his defense in the case of suspicion of illegally owning guns and explosives and occupation of state property. Upon receiving the commission, the lawyers saw the defendant, lodged a request with the court for copies of the case documents, and participated in the trial, and in accordance with what has been grasped of the concrete conditions in this case, now issue the following opinions:
One, the defense reiterates
The “Constitution of the People’s Republic of China” and other laws must be seriously and strictly respected to the full; all organizations and individuals must act within the strictures of the Constitution and laws, and cannot be above the Constitution and laws; the State respects and protects human rights; and the rights of all Chinese citizens, including Living Buddha Buronglang, must have the thorough and effective protection of China’s Constitution and laws.
Two, the defense explains
The right which (we) the defense lawyers have under to the Law to meet with the defendant in the detention center was brutally and illegally violated by Liu Jun, Director of Kangding [Tibetan: Dartsedo] County Detention Center.
The defense lawyers’ right to copies of case documents did not receive the protection of Kangding County People’s Court; the defense lawyers only copied a portion of the case file, furthermore, of the 20 or so documents we obtained, 20 have either their beginnings or endings missing so that the defense lawyers had no way of understanding the transcripts’ concrete meaning, no way of ascertaining their veracity or legality, and no way of cross-examining. Thereby Kangding County People’s Procuratorate placed enormous obstacles in the way of the defense lawyers’ professional activities and the rights of the defendant to legal representation!
Three, the defense cautions
Living Buddha Buronglang is a religious personage who is fervently publicly spirited. Over a long period and using his own funds, he has run an old people’s home giving support to several dozen elderly people in Ganzi [Tibetan: Kardze] County; he has also raised several orphans. Buronglang Rinpoche’s caring has not only led to him being widely respected, he has also practically assisted in solving difficulties for the state and the government.
Living Buddha Buronglang is a religious personage who loves the country and loves religion. Prior to May 14, 2008 and the incident of the nuns taking to the streets, he spent 20 days in hospital for an appendectomy. When the incident occurred, he was discussing matters of stability with a section of senior county leaders at Buronglang Juemu Monastery and knew nothing of the incident’s occurrence. After the incident and after he learned of it, he actively coordinated with county leaders on taking remedial measures.
Buronglang Rinpoche has also actively contributed ideas and policy suggestions on development in Ganzi, and frequently offered critiques on existing problems in development; all of which is a manifestation of his love of the country and love of his home town.
Taking criminal measures against Buronglang Rinpoche, who is very influential locally and who is broadly respected, would be detrimental to upholding local unity of the nationalities.
Four, the defense considers
To charge that Living Buddha Buronglang has committed the crime of illegally possessing weapons and explosives and of occupying state property lacks factual clarity and sufficient evidence. Also, serious violations of the law occurred during the procedures of this case.
(A) The charge against Living Buddha Buronglang of illegally possessing weapons and explosives does not hold.
i) The facts of this charge are not clear
On the homemade [fangzhi] handgun
Aside from stating in the charging documents that this gun was taken from Living Buddha Buronglang’s living room, many other questions remain unclear:
Where did this gun come from? Did the Living Buddha make it himself or was it bought? When was it made or purchased? If purchased, from whom was it purchased? How much was it purchased for? Were any commonly used tests performed to see whether or not the Living Buddha’s finger prints were on its surfaces? There is obviously insufficient evidence to charge and convict for the crime of illegal possession of weapons and explosives solely because guns and explosive were discovered at his home during a search, because the possibility cannot be ruled out that he has been framed by others.
The defense wishes to draw the court’s attention to the fact that as a Living Buddha, the defendant routinely receives the faithful and guests in his living room, and that from dawn the door is open to the faithful and guests until it is closed at night; furthermore, unlike doors to the offices of state organs, no one stands on guard. From what we know from the trial, several days prior to his detention on May 18, 2008, and in particular on May 17, the Living Buddha had a strong sense that he could be detained, and so why would he not have moved these weapons that were “hidden” under the bed in the living room in a practically public arena? Is the prosecutor able to think this through: even someone with the slightest common sense would not think of hiding weapons in a living room where people constantly come and go. Were you even able to convince yourself of this?
Furthermore and with regard to the description of the gun, in the “Case Registration Form,” the “Arrest Procedure [zhuahuo jingguo],” the “Request to Apply for Arrest,” the “Record of Search,” the “Transcript of On-Site Inspection,” and the “Police Manifest of Impounded Items,” it can be clearly seen that personnel handling the case have written “a homemade ‘54’ gun,” but this was later changed throughout to “a homemade ‘64’ gun,” and then finally in the Certificate of Authenticity and in the Indictment, it had changed again to “unidentifiable gun [feizhishi qiangzhi] [ie, not modeled on or intended to replicate another gun],” and “a homemade gun.” The defense must ask, why are there all of these changes? Which version is true and which is false?
On the pistol bullets, rifle bullets, and small-bore bullets
The Indictment states “…ascertained: …40 rounds of rifle ammunition, 39 rounds of pistol ammunition, and 50 rounds of small-bore ammunition,” but:
In the May 23, 2008 transcript the defendant states there were more than 30 rounds of rifle ammunition at 1.2 yuan each, 64 rounds of pistol ammunition at 1 yuan each, and one box of small-bore ammunition containing 30 to 40 rounds. In the June 10 transcript of the same year it is stated that there were 30 to 40 rounds of rifle ammunition at 1.5 yuan each, and 60 rounds of pistol ammunition at 1 yuan each. These contradicting numbers and prices are at odds with the figures in the Indictment, and it is not known where the numbers indicated in the Indictment came from or how they were chosen.
In the defendant’s June 10, 2008 transcript, the defendant says: “There used to be a worker at the Ganzi Public Security Bureau called Kang Songming who used to live next door to me, and when I was reciting scriptures I borrowed a 54 pistol with seven or eight rounds of ammunition.” This Kang Songming, we have his name, his family name, we know where he works, and it should not be difficult to check the veracity of what the defendant said, but nowhere in the case files does it show investigators have verified this material is this not negligent?
The defendant repeatedly put it that the ammunition supposedly relating to the case was bought from a youth in Heishui [Tibetan: Trochu County in Ngaba TAP, Sichuan Province] in or around 1990 and 1991. The defense considers that it would be very easy to check the production dates on the rifle ammunition and the pistol ammunition and therefore very easy to know if these bullets were produced before or after 1990 or 1991; if it was after, then obviously the defendant’s statement is not factual. But the personnel handling the case did not check, and is this not negligent? Why has this case been handled so crudely?
Similarly, fingerprint testing was not carried out on these bullets, and is that not also negligent?
As to why the bullets had not been handed in [jiaoshang] the defendant on page three of the May 23, 2008 transcript: “Question: Why didn’t you hand the bullets in during the 2007 ‘relinquish guns, control explosives’? Answer: Because I am a living Buddha, and I didn’t hand them in because I was afraid that having that much ammunition at home would cause a bad impression and so I kept them hidden at home. Yesterday when I said I’d thrown them in the river, that wasn’t true.” On page two of the defendant’s June 10, 2008 transcript, “Question: Why didn’t you hand the bullets in during the 2007 ‘relinquish guns, control explosives’? Answer: I forgot there were still bullets at home and so I didn’t hand them in.” There is a contradiction here between what was said before and after and it’s hard to know fake from fact. How did the prosecution choose? What on earth are the facts?
Therefore, setting aside any prejudices and subjective speculations we are harboring, and looking again at the materials used to level these charges, there are questions everywhere, there are self-contradictions everywhere, and everywhere there are places that should have been checked but were not checked. And so we ask of the prosecution, where are these ‘clear facts’?!
Why are there so many contradictions in the defendant’s earlier and later transcripts?
ii) Serious violations of the law in the procedural handling of this case
According to verifications in court, when the defendant was arraigned at Luhuo [Tibetan: Drango County in Kardze TAP, Sichuan Province] Detention Center, he was handcuffed by an alternating hand each day to an iron pillar in the interrogation room and with arms outstretched and unable to sit down he was interrogated continuously for four days and four nights by a team of six people in three units of two people; at the same time defendant was told that if he did not confess that the weapons and explosive were his, then his wife and son would be detained. Under such harsh interrogation the defendant had no option but to go against his will and “confess without reservation.” But such a “confession without reservation” garnered under conditions of such torture and terrifying threats gave rise to the numerous contradictions mentioned previously. Anything attained under such torture and such terrifying threats is not only not factual, it is also in serious breach of the Criminal Procedure Law and the provisions of legal explanations [occasional supplementary rulings issued by the Supreme People’s Court]; it also contravenes the “Procedural Regulations for Public Security Organs’ Handling of Criminal Cases,” and is a serious breach of procedure.
Other clear instances of procedural illegalities:
According to the Criminal Case Registration Form, the case was not accepted until May 18, 2008 after it was discovered by the State Security Unit through its routine work. The case was accepted by the State Security Unit; the Unit was also listed as the location of the case acceptance. Yet the investigation personnel from Ganzi County Police had already transferred Pubu Ciren [Tibetan: Phurbu Tsering, which is Phurbu Rinpoche’s layname] into custody at 6:00 am on the 18th; so precisely when was the case reported to the police by the masses? And the case file reflects nothing of the possibility that the case may have been fabricated.
Judging from the record of the Criminal Case Registration Form, a search had already been completed and the case had already been solved by investigation before a decision had been taken on whether or not to go to trial. Also, when the case had only just been accepted [by the state prosecution], it was already stated in the case report: “On May 18, 2008 Ganzi County Public Security investigative personnel conducted a search of the suspect Pubu Ciren’s residence on 277 Liberation Street, Ganzi Town and discovered one homemade ‘64’ pistol; one box of 50 rounds of ammunition; a ‘54’ pistol with 39 rounds of ammunition; and a semi-automatic rifle with 40 rounds of ammunition sequestered by Pubu Ciren.” Similarly, Ganzi County police’s “Decision to Establish a Case” states directly that they were investigating a case of illegal possession of weapons and explosives against Phurbu Rinpoche; unconsciously, they omitted to say he was even suspected of any involvement in the case.
iii) The evidence in this case is insufficient and the charges cannot be established
As described above the facts in this case are unclear, there are contradictions in the allegations, and most non-experts would clearly see that there were not tests when there should have been tests and no results from any tests, and that there are doubts at every stage. According to the Criminal Procedure Law, evidence used to justify the establishment of a criminal accusation must form a complete, tight and closed chain, all reasonable doubts have to be dispelled, and the results of the evidence must indicate only facts. But evidently, this case can in no way attain these demands.
Witnesses and expert witnesses in this case did not appear in court for cross examination, and it was impossible to ascertain the reason why; according to the Criminal Procedure Law and relevant legal opinions, witnesses and expert witnesses, aside from those with legal reasons to be excluded, should appear in court for cross-examination, otherwise their testimony and expert opinion cannot be accepted.
The confession in this case which is deleterious to the defendant was made when the defendant was under torture and terrifying threats. According to law, it cannot be used as a basis for conviction and punishment.
Obviously, the charge against the defendant in this case of illegal possession of weapons and explosives cannot be established.
(B) The charge against Living Buddha Buronglang of illegally occupying state property does not hold
The facts are unclear and there is insufficient evidence in this case to charge Living Buddha Buronglang with the crime of illegal occupation of state property. At the same time, to define Living Buddha Buronglang’s management of the Buronglang old people’s home as the crime of occupying state property is a failure of common sense as well as inhumane and irrational!
i) Pubu Zeren, aka Living Buddha Buronglang had already by means of a transfer agreement legally acquired state-owned land-use rights for the land at 277 Liberation Street, Ganzi County.
a) Minutes from the (2004) 02 Ganzi County Chinese Communist Party Office Ganzi meeting show that: at 2:00 in the afternoon on April 19, 2004 the county Deputy Party Secretary and County Head of the County People’s Government, Comrade Zhashi [Tibetan: Tashi], convened a meeting of leaders from the county party committee, the county people’s congress, the county government and the county CPPCC in the conference room on the third floor of the county government building, at which the “four parties” were joined by a pharmaceutical company, to earnestly research the question of the disposition of the pharmaceutical company’s land and all land-use rights.
Minutes on the major issues include: a price of 70,000 yuan was set for the county pharmaceutical company’s land and all land-use rights, which were to be ceded to Living Buddha Buronglang to build an old-people’s home. At the same time, the transferee was required in accordance with agreements contained in the “Contract on Ceding Land-Use Rights on State-Owned Land,” to pay transfer payments in a timely way; land registration procedures were handled according to law, and having acquired the state-owned land-use rights, the construction project on the land was completed quickly.
b) On April 26, 2004, Ganzi County Bureau of Land and Resources and Pubu Ciren signed a “Contract on Ceding Land-Use Rights on State-Owned Land.” Clause one of this contract stipulates, “This contract has been drawn up by both parties based on the principles of equality, willingness, and payment.” Clause three stipulates: “Party B may within the time allotted and in accordance with relevant regulations transfer, rent out, use as collateral or use the land for other economic activities.” Clause five stipulates: “The allotted time for the transferal of land-use rights under this contract shall be 70 years.” Clause six stipulates: “The land ceded under this contract is for an old people’s home project, subject to approval under overall regulations.” Xu Yi who at the time managed the transfer contract confirmed, “At the time I didn’t know he was called Pubu Ciren. I thought his name was Buronglang, and so I wrote ‘Living Buddha Buronglang’.” When the contract ceding State-owned land-use rights to the Buronglang home were signed, it did not have the necessary credentials and did not have its own funds, and according to law could not be the main party and was not capable of fulfilling the role. It wasn’t until June 10, 2004 six months later that the Buronglang home was formally approved by Ganzi County Civil Affairs Bureau.
B) There is no doubt at all that the building constructed on legally acquired land with Living Buddha Buronglang’s personal funds is his own personal property. The Buronglang home itself did not invest a single penny in the land purchase and construction, and according to convention, according to reason, and according to law, property rights on the building cannot be taken away.
It had already been decided by the four parties to set a price of 70,000 yuan for the pharmaceutical company’s land and all land-use rights, and to cede the land to Living Buddha Buronglang to build an old people’s home. The transferee under the “Contract on Ceding Land-Use Rights on State-Owned Land” was Living Buddha Buronglang, payments for the land cede were made by Living Buddha Buronglang, and the 1.6 million yuan costs for constructing an old people’s home at 277 Liberation Street in Ganzi County were all met in full by Living Buddha Buronglang. The Buronglang old people’s home has no fixed income and none of its own funds, and could not pay such a large transfer fee and construction costs.
Ganzi County Bureau of Land and Resources erroneously registered the property owner as the Buronglang old people’s home, but making all ownership registration to be collective does not correspond with the facts.
(C) Buronglang old people’s home was privately established on June 10, 2004 by Living Buddha Buronglang and was registered as a civic private non-enterprise and not as a collective work unit, and certainly not state-owned. In accordance with the “Temporary Measures for the Registration of Civic Non-Enterprise Work Units,” it belongs to an individual civic non-enterprise work unit.
In 1996, Buronglang applied to open an old people’s home in his own name without any government investment, and he has never had any.
Article two of the “Temporary Regulations for the Registration and Regulation of Civic Non-Enterprise Work Units” states that “civic non-enterprise work units” refers to enterprise and institution work units, social bodies and other social forces established by citizens using their own non-state-owned resources for social organizations to engage in non-profit social activities. Also, article two of the “Temporary Measures for the Registration of Civic Non-Enterprise Work Units” states civic non-enterprise work units are divided into three types depending on the different civil responsibilities they undertake according to law: civic non-enterprise work units (legal entity), civic non-enterprise work units (partnerships), and civic non-enterprise work units (individuals).
Individuals responsible for funding civic non-enterprise work units may apply for registration to establish an individual civic non-enterprise work unit (legal entity); two people or two or more people establishing a partnership can apply for registration to establish a partnership civic non-enterprise work unit (partnership); and two people or two or more people can apply for registration to establish a legal entity legal entity civic non-enterprise work unit (legal entity). Civic non-enterprise work units established by enterprises and institute work units, social bodies and other social forces, or those jointly established by organizations described above along with individuals should apply for registration as a civic non-enterprise work unit (legal entity).
(D) Furthermore, a lot of the material presented by the prosecution showed that the registration of 227 Liberation Street in Ganzi County as a commercial service was based on the requirements of Ganzi County Government regulations.
Therefore, the charge against Living Buddha Buronglang of occupying state property does not hold.
In sum, the defense hopes that the court will take facts as the basis, take the law as the yardstick, and with wisdom and courage pronounce Living Buddha Buronglang to be innocent and release him immediately. At the same time, it is asked that policy-makers at all levels with their expansive vision and breadth of mind focus on the reality with a vision of the future and take the decision to release the innocent Living Buddha Buronglang Rinpoche.
Defense lawyers: Beijing Municipality Ruifeng Law Office, Lawyer Li Fangping
Beijing Municipality Gaobo Longhua Law Office, Lawyer Jiang Tianyong
April 21, 2008 [sic]
The following document was issued by the court and translated from the original Chinese by ICT
After September 19, 2005 the defendant Pubu Ciren [Tibetan: Phurbu Tsering], by taking advantage of his status as the person responsible at the privately founded Buronglang [Tibetan: Buramna] old people’s home (referred to below as the home), privately entrusted Kang Xiuying to use private connections in order to change permits for all holders of land-use rights for the 1968.75 square meters of building land at the home, and the building property rights over to Kang Xiuying and Pubu Ciren. Land-usage was changed from land for charitable use to commercial services, and the property rights were changed from collective to individual, illegally expropriating the land-use rights at the home and ownership of the building. It is estimated that the value of the portion of land for which Pubu Ciren expropriated the land-use rights is 218,100 yuan.
Evidence confirming the above facts is as follows:
Documentation, witness testimony, expert opinion, and transcripts of on-site investigations, the defendant’s confession and explanations on file.
This office considers that the defendant Pubu Ciren was in illegal possession of weapons and explosives, and by taking advantage of his professional position illegally expropriated the property of the home as his own. The sums involved were large, and his actions were in contravention of Clause 1 of Article 128 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, Clause 1 of Article 271, and Article 69. The facts of the crime are clear, there is solid and ample evidence, and criminal responsibility should be pursued for the crimes of illegal possession of weapons and explosives and illegal expropriation of state property. In accordance with the regulations in Article 141 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, public suit is raised to prosecute according to law.
Kangding County People’s Court
Prosecutor: Wang You
February 13, 2009
1: The defendant is currently detained at Kangding Detention Center;
2: One copy of the list of evidence, one copy of the list of witnesses, [illegible number] copies and [illegible number] pages of legal documents pertaining to this case, and main evidence.
In Praise of Panrina [Phurbu] Rinpoche
A personal account by a scholar who knows Phurbu Rinpoche and has visited him in Kardze
The first time I met Panrina Rinpoche (Tib. sPang ri sna), also known as Purbu Tsering (Tib. Phur bu tshe ring) was in the winter of 2005. I was visiting the Panrina nunnery just a few miles outside Kardze in the village of Singo (Tib. Sib ngo/Su ngo). Not far from this small village is also the Kardze nomads’ relocation village. I was immediately struck by the respect, reverence, and devotion that the nuns of his nunnery showed for him. When he approached the convent a few nuns prostrated to his feet stretching their full bodies on the dusty and sandy courtyard and one nun could not hold back the tears from her eyes! An impressive and sturdy man, Panrina Rinpoche instantly made me feel welcome with his contagious smile and gentle manners. He was a great listener and very humble person.
Although he expressed true concern for the state of Tibetan society and culture in his land, all the time we conversed in his house, not far from Kardze main crossroads, he never attacked nor criticized the Chinese government or the local authorities with whom he has always tried to maintain a healthy and mutually respectful dialogue. Although he was absolutely concerned about the social, cultural, and religious situation of Tibetans in Kardze, he has always been interested in finding compromises rather than aiming at harsh and aggressive resolutions. At the nunnery, he showed me around introducing me to a few nuns. He told me that the nuns were very devoted to their practices and religious chores, but he did not fail to point out how they were also under the constant pressure of the local authorities.
Due to the ongoing patriotic education, authorities would visit the nunnery regularly, even a few times a week with the purpose of investigating the nuns’ loyalty to the Dalai Lama and their sympathy for the Tibetan independence cause. They would test a number of nuns’ knowledge of the current religious regulations and would often make abusive verbal comments when they failed to receive satisfactory results. Each nun had to own, read, and study the most updated versions of political manuals distributed by the Pubic Security Bureau (PSB) officers and cadres. Darkened by years of smoke, the walls of the kitchen and guest room, were dotted with government’s framed statements and patriotic slogans.
Panrina Rinpoche Lobsang Tenzin Yeshe Trinley (bLo bzang bstan dzin ye shes phrin las) is the fourth of a line of reincarnated Buddhist masters from the respected Tre hor Kardze monastery in the nearby area of Brag go. Despite having been recognized as a Tulku (Tib. Sprul sku) at a very young age, due to the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), as a child he was not able to pursue the monastic career and related religious education usually prescribed for such outstanding religious figures in the purest Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Nevertheless, his religious vocation and intellectual curiosity never failed to prevail over more mundane matters. Partially self-teaching and partially by traveling to some other Tibetan and Chinese towns and cities such as Chengdu, Panrina Rinpoche studied with a number of Tibetan intellectuals and religious figures of his time especially at the end of the 1970s. He read several books on both religious and political topics. This gave him an eclectic and considerable knowledge in the most important and crucial facets of Buddhist culture.
Due to his religious status, Panrina Rinpoche’s concern for his country and people generated a sincere sense of responsibility. He once told me that it was in order to fulfill his urge to do something for his people that he established a small nunnery that would give renewed luster to his century-old lineage and the thousand-year old religious culture of Tibet. Thanks to private donations and support from the local populace, he finally built the Panrina Tashi Gepheling nunnery (sPang ri sna bkra shis dge phel gling) in the Singo village just outside Kardze town. Although he is a lay teacher, he is very attentive to the education of the nuns who not only study under the supervision of a local spiritual leader and Panrina Rinpoche himself, but also receive more specific instructions by other prestigious masters who visit them regularly from neighboring monasteries.
Panrina Rinpoche is not a Buddhist monk, but seeing him interact with people exposed the serenity and equanimity typical of some realized beings. He is married with children, but his and his family’s activities have never been aimed at the accumulation of personal wealth. Rather their actions have always been focused on the benefit of less fortunate people, with particular attention to the sick, the old, and the young. In 2005 he established an old people house not far from his own residence, and a pharmacy. His son, a trained physician, was in charge of the store. Following his father’s vision he tried to provides care and assistance to those in need often free of charge. I myself have witnessed on more than one occasion Panrina Rinpohe and his son offering medical assistance and drugs to people without the possibility of paying for the medicines.
Panrina Rinpoche’s compassion and social engagement have always been acknowledged and respected by Tibetans in Kardze. His concerns were also especially directed towards children’s health and education. For a few years, he also personally took care of a young mentally challenged ethnic Chinese child apparently abandoned by his parents at a very young age. While waiting for local authorities to agree on the appropriate measure, Panrina Rinpoche took the young child home where he lived for a couple of years and showered him with attention and affection. He personally attended to the child’s home tutoring, reflecting Panrina Rinpoche’s indiscriminate attention to children and lack of hatred for the Chinese.
One of Panrina Rinpoche’s agonizing worries, however, has always been the future of Tibetan language, culture, and folk traditions and customs. On many occasions, he complained that Tibetans are becoming more and more unconsciously Sinicized in terms of lifestyle, manners, and language. The overwhelming presence of Chinese migrants and permanent residents of Kardze is diluting the essential spirit of the area, jeopardizing the local religious and traditional culture. In this critique of local culture, Panrina Rinpoche was not alone. Other eminent intellectuals like him such as teachers, scholars, and local influential religious figures, both monastic and lay, share Panrina Rinpoche’s concerns and preoccupations.
In his attempt to keep Tibetan culture and local customs alive, Panrina Rinpoche has predominantly worn Tibetan-style clothes and his house is furnished respecting as much as possible Tibetan interior decoration and design. It is impossible to neglect or overestimate Panrina Rinpoche’s highly influential position and respected status among the local populace of Kardze. When people met him in the streets they bowed to him and asked for his blessings. During official celebrations and ceremonies, monasteries invited him and arranged high seats for him and performed highly deferential rituals.