Tibet : Life-jailed lama in poor health
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a prominent local lama and activist of Lithang County in Sichuan province, originally sentenced to death in Dec’02 , suffers from ailments related to bones, heart, and blood pressure, reported Radio Free Asia , citing a written statement from a source in Tibet. The report followed a meeting his two sisters were finally allowed by 5he authorities on Apr 27.The meeting, which Sonam Dekyi and Dolkar had been petitioning for for a long time, took place at an unspecified place arranged by the authorities some 200 miles (320 kms) from the provincial capital, Chengdu. The prison head and doctor informed them about the lama’s ailment, including the fact that he recently had a fall, apparently due to his illnesses.
China accused the lama of being behind a series of bombings in and around his local area, which he refuted vehemently. A relative of his, Lobsang Dhondup, was severely tortured and executed after being sentenced to death in connection with the same case. The lama received a suspended death sentence apparently because of strong international pressure mounted at the time. On Jan 26 2005, the death sentence was commuted to life in jail.
Local officials jealous of his great popularity as a religious figure as well as in reprisal for his philanthropic and environmental activism, were said to have falsely implicated him in the case. He was also reported to be very popular with the local ethnic Chinese, especially for his role in ensuring inter-ethnic harmony.
In Dec’09, Tibetans in Lithang and Nyagchukha staged a series of major protests to demand the lama’s release. Dozens were held and there were clashes with police. China deployed huge security forces in the two areas.
The sisters were reported to have told him during the meeting that they have been attempting to protest his innocence to authorities in Beijing. The Rinpoche was reported to have urged them to continue, saying he too had sent letters to 26 government departments.