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Chinese authorities cremate Tenzin Delek's body PDF Print E-mail
[10 August 2015] UPDATE: On 14 July, the day after Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's death was announced, Chinese security forces shot into a crowd of protestors in Tenzin Delek's hometown injuring at least 15 Tibetans. On 16 July, the Chinese authorities cremated the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche against the wishes of his family. The ashes were handed over to the family but were later confiscated by police before they reached his home monastery. On 17 July, Tenzin Delek's sister and niece were detained. Both were released on 31 July but have since been barred from contacting outside sources. Chinese state media have reported that Tenzin Delek's death was due to a heart attack.

Index
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche30 July
♦ Sister and niece released, communications restricted
18 July
♦ China says death was due to heart attack
♦ Ashes confiscated
17 July
♦ Sister and niece detained
16 July
♦ Authorities cremate Tenzin Delek's body
♦ Rinpoche's sisters temporarily detained
15 July

♦ Update on protests in Tibet
♦ UK & US government statements
14 July
♦ Tibetans protest over death
♦ Lack of official information
♦ Denial of family visits
13 July
♦ UK MP says 'China has blood on its hands'
♦ Tenzin Delek Rinpoche dies in Chinese prison


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Family members released but given communications ban
Dolkar Lhamo & Nyima Lhamo[10 August 2015] The sister and niece of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche have been released from detention. Dolkar Lhamo, 52, sister of Tenzin Delek, and her daughter Nyima, 25, (pictured right) were released on 30 July after being held for nearly two weeks by Chinese authorities in a secret location. The two women were taken into custody on 17 July, five days after the death of Tenzin Delek, on unspecified charges.

According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), the two women were sent back to their hometown in Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang) county , Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now part of China's Sichuan province). No charges are reported to have been filed against them. However, it is feared they may have been subjected to beatings and torture. Their current health status is not known.

TCHRD have also reported the Chinese authorities have barred Tenzin Delek's family members from discussing the death and subsequent incidents with anyone. Mobile phones belonging to Dolkar Lhamo, Nyima and other family members have been confiscated, all outgoing calls and incoming calls from outside Tibet have been blocked and local police have warned the family against organising any gatherings. There are also restrictions on communications across the Nyagchuka county area.

Reports also indicate that Tibetans have been barred from attending prayer sessions at Tenzin Delek's monasteries since 17 July. Chinese troops have been deployed in the region to enforce the ban.

Further reading:
RFA I Phayul



China detains family members, confiscates ashes
[29 July 2015]
In developments over the past 12 days, the Chinese authorities have detained the sister and niece of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, police have confiscated Tenzin Delek's ashes which had been handed over to the family, and state media have reported that Tenzin Delek died from a "sudden cardiac arrest".

18 July: State media say death was due to heart attack
A week after Tenzin Delek's death the Chinese authorities announced that he had died from a heart attack. According to a statement issued on 18 July by the state-run news agency Xinhua, the cause of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's death was "sudden cardiac arrest".

On 20 July, China Daily, another state-run outlet, published a report on Tenzin Delek's death with the headline "Separatist leader's death not worthy of lament", exemplifying the government's hardline attitude towards the monk and to the Tibetan people in general.

17/18 July: Ashes confiscated
Following the cremation of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche on 16 July, the authorities handed over the ashes to his family. A group of four Tibetans then began the journey back to Uthak monastery (Tenzin Delek's home monastery) in Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang) county, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province). The group included the acting abbot of Uthak monastery and two of Tenzin Delek's relatives.

On the night of 17 July or early hours of 18 July, after the group arrived in Chaksamkha (also referred to as Jagsamka; Ch: Luding) in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province, Chinese police raided their hotel and forcibly seized the ashes. When the group appealed for the return of the ashes, the police threatened to throw the ashes in the local river.

Since Tenzin Delek's death there are reports of an increase in the number of troops deployed in Nyagachuka county and the surrounding region.

17 July: Sister and niece detained
Dolkar Lhamo & Nyima LhamoThe sister of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Dolkar Lhamo and her daughter, Nyima Lhamo, were detained by the Chinese authorities on 17 July in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Dolkar Lhamo, 52, had earlier issued an appeal to the authorities to allow the body of her brother to be returned to his home. The authorities declined the request and cremated his body on 17 July.

Despite assurances by the authorities to other family members that Dolkar and her daughter, aged about 25, were only going to be questioned and would be returned to their homes, there has been no further information on their condition or whereabouts.

Further reading: ICT I RFA I Phayul I China Daily


Chinese authorities cremate Tenzin Delek's body
[16 July 2015] The Chinese authorities have cremated the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche against the wishes of his family. Some members of his family were allowed to attend the cremation, which was held under tight security. Concerns remain as China continues to refuse to provide any information on the cause of his death.

The cremation took place in the morning of 16 July, near Chuandong prison in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The authorities allowed about 30 family members and students of Tenzin Delek to view the body under strict surveillance and say a few prayers before the body was cremated.

There are contradictory reports about the remains of Tenzin Delek. According to a source quoted by International Campaign for Tibet, the family were allowed to take away Tenzin Delek's ashes, which are now being taken to his monastery in Nyagchuka county. However, other sources report the family are still awaiting to receive the ashes with the officials so far having refused to hand them over.

Further reports indicate the authorities refused to hand over any of Tenzin Delek's belongings, which were said to have been burned.

Tenzin Delek's sister, Dolkar Lhamo, who was able to view her brother's body, said Chinese officials had denied her request to preserve her brother's body for 15 days in keeping with Tibetan Buddhist traditions. She also said that Tenzin Delek's fingernails and mouth were black adding to her suspicions as to the cause of death.

Following the cremation, family members wrote an appeal letter to the Chinese government asking for an explanation for Tenzin Delek's death and why the body had not been returned to them. (See text of appeal via ICT)

Tibet Post International quoted Geshe Nyima, a cousin of Tenzin Delek, as saying, "I am heartbroken, but also extremely angry. My family cannot accept this. We will not stop demanding justice until we have answers. Chinese authorities denied us our right to pay our final respect to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and refused to return his body to us for Buddhist rites. My family believes he was murdered."

The peaceful sit-in protest outside Chuandong prison is reported to have ended.

Further reading: Reuters I ICT I TPI I RFA

Sisters of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche temporarily detained
According to International Campaign for Tibet, two sisters of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, were detained by the Chinese authorities after they refused to sign a document about his health condition.

The two sisters had been under pressure by the authorities to sign a document which was described as a report on the health condition of Tenzin Delek. The sisters were told they were not allowed a copy of the document. When they refused to sign they were detained for approximately 10 hours in Chuandong prison, the same prison as Tenzin Delek had been held. One of the sisters is reported to have fainted in the prison, before they were released.

Further reading: ICT


Update on protests in Tibet; at least 15 injured
Tibetan hospitalised after Nyagchuka protestTibetan injured in Nyagchuka protest[15 July 2015] Latest reports indicate at least 15 Tibetans were injured as Chinese security forces violently dispersed protestors calling for the release of the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. The protests took place on 13 July, the day after the imprisoned monk's death was announced, in Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang) county, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China's Sichuan proviince). Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's monastery is in the Nyagchuka region.

According to the Tibetan government-in-exile (CTA), at least 15 Tibetans were hospitalised with gunshot wounds following the incident, including five elderly Tibetans (pictured right, via CTA).

International Campaign for Tibet reported, prior to the violent dispersal of the protestors, Tibetan representatives had attempted to speak to the local authorities. However, the authorities refused to engage in a dialogue and, according to a source quoted by ICT, the group were beaten "with brutality". This triggered an angry response from the crowd who then stormed the township government building. ICT also reported that the Chinese authorities invited senior religious leaders to calm the situation.

Full details of the incident and the number of injured are difficult to ascertain as communications in the region have been restricted.

Protest ay Chuangong prisonAccording to ICT, a group of monks is seeking to visit Chuandong prison with the aim of viewing Tenzin Delek Rinpoches body. It is not known if the authorities will allow such access.

As well as demonstrations in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's home town, a protest has been reported outside Chuandong prison in Chengdu, Sichuan province (pictured right). Approximately 100 Tibetans conducted a sit-in protest demanding the release of Rinpoche's body to allow traditional funeral rites. The current status of the protest and the protestors is not known.

Further reading: CTA I ICT

UK & US government statements
The UK government issued a statement late on 13 July via a Foreign Office spokesperson saying, "We are saddened by reports that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has died in detention in China. We raised his case with Chinese authorities on a number of occasions, including during the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in April this year."

Tibet Society is disappointed at such a weak statement from the UK government and the lack of any condemnation of China's treatment of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche or their refusal to grant medical parole. Tibet Society has written to the Foreign Office, calling for a stronger statement.

Conversely, the US government called on China to investigate the death and to return the body to Rinpoche's family. The statement, issued by the US State Department on 13 July said, "We are saddened to learn that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a Tibetan lama who has been a political prisoner since 2002, has died in prison. We express our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and supporters. The United States had consistently urged China to release Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, most recently out of concern for his health. We hope Chinese authorities will investigate and make public the circumstances surrounding his death. We urge Chinese authorities to return his body to his family or to his monastery so that customary religious rituals can be properly performed."

UK statement (via Reuters) I US statement



Tibetans protest over death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
[14 July 2015] On 13 July, following the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, over a thousand Tibetans gathered in Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang) county, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China's Sichuan proviince). Local Tibetans gathered in several locations, including Rinpoche's monastery in Othok village to say prayers and pay their respects and outside the local government office in Thang Karma near Othok. The crowd in Thang Karma called on the authorities to release Rinpoche's body to allow a traditional funeral and demanded answers surrounding the circumstances of the monk's death.

In response to the protest, the local authorities deployed security forces who attempted to disperse the crowd by firing shots into the crowd, using tear gas and beating protestors. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Local sources reported that road blocks were set up in the county and surrounding areas, travel in the area had been severely restricted and communication lines cut.

Lack of official information of Rinpoche's death

Tenzin Delek RinpocheThough Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's death has been confirmed by Chinese officials, the exact date of the death and the circumstances are still not clear.

Associated Press reported on 13 July they had confirmed the death after contacting a member of the Public Security Bureau in Dazhu county (Sichuan). However, no official statement has been issued by the Chinese authorities confirming the date or cause of death.

Family members have approached the authorities to ascertain the reasons behind the death and to urge they release his body. According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, no response has been received to these requests other than a statement saying that officials are "holding a meeting" about the matter.

International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) quoted Geshe Nyima, a relative of Rinpoche's who lives in exile, as saying, There are so many unanswered questions about how he died; was it due to poor health, lack of medical treatment, or was he subjected to torture or other poor treatment that resulted in his death?

Rinpoche denied visits from family
Tenzin Delek RinpocheTenzin Delek Rinpoche was last seen by his family during a prison visit in November 2013. This was one of only seven prison visits allowed durng his 13 years in prison.Each of the visits lasted approximately 30 minutes and were under strict supervision by prison officials. The Chinese authorities denied all other requests for visits by his relatives, including all those over the past 18 months.

According to ICT, when he was seen by his family in November 2013, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had shown signs of very poor health. He was suffering from a serious heart condition and part of his body was shaking uncontrollably. The family also discovered he had lost consciousness on numerous occasions whilst in prison.

According to Radio Free Asia, two of Rinpoche's sisters travelled to Chengdu two weeks ago to visit Rinpoche in prison. However, they were denied access, being repeatedly told to return the following day. On 12 July, the sisters were told they would be allowed to visit Rinpoche, only to be told a few hours later he had died. The sisters have since been attempting to find out further details of the death to no avail.

Further reading: TCHRD I ICT I RFA

Tibet Society
News article (13 July): Tenzin Delek Rinpoche dies in Chinese prison
Press release (13 July): MP says 'China has blood on its hands'

Read more about Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's case

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