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Letter to the UK Foreign Secretary on the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche PDF Print E-mail
[15 July 2015] Tibet Society and Students for a Free Tibet UK have written a joint letter to the UK Foreign Secretary calling for a strong public statement on the death in a Chinese prison of innocent Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.

Tenzin Delek RinpcoheTibet Society and Students for a Free Tibet are calling upon the UK Foreign Secretary to condemn China over the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, call on China to conduct an investigation into the death and make the findings public, and to allow Tibetans in Tibet the right to mourn and protest peacefully in public without the threat of violence by security forces (as occurred on 14 July).

Support our call - click here to take action by writing to your MP, the Chinese authorities and signing the international petition.

Update: On 16 July, the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was cremated by the Chinese authorities against the wishes of his family.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH

15 July 2015

Dear Foreign Secretary,

Re: Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, revered Tibetan Buddhist monk who died in Chinese custody

It is with grave concern that we, the undersigned, write with regard to the death of highly respected Tibetan leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, as reported on 12 July 2015. Tenzin Delek was imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 13 years for a crime he did not commit.

The Chinese government is refusing to reveal the circumstances of his sudden death. However, it is known he had been tortured and abused in prison, was gravely ill with a serious heart condition and had been denied medical treatment. China is also refusing to release the body, thus denying the family the right to a traditional funeral.

Tenzin Deleks family applied for his release on medical parole in 2014 which was subsequently supported by a number of international governments. The UK government, as I am sure you are aware, raised Tenzin Deleks case on several occasions, including most recently at the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue in April 2015, and during a parliamentary debate on 18 June 2015, where Foreign Minister Hugo Swire called on China to grant medical parole to Tenzin Delek.

The Chinese government failed to respond to the initial application for medical parole and to the subsequent calls from the international community, allowing Tenzin Delek to die in prison.

The injustice and ill-treatment that Tenzin Delek had to endure and Chinas failure to grant medical parole must be acknowledged and denounced. The international community must insist China abides by universally-accepted standards to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners, end the use of torture and prevent deaths in custody.

China must also be encouraged to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Tenzin Deleks death and make the findings public. According to their own law (Article 55 of the Peoples Republic of Chinas Prison Law): If a prisoner dies an abnormal death, the Peoples Procuratorate shall immediately conduct examinations and make an appraisal on the cause of the death.

Following the announcement of the death of Tenzin Delek on 12 July, hundreds of Tibetans have taken to the streets to mourn his passing and to call on the authorities to release his body. Chinese security forces have been deployed and have dispersed the gatherings by firing shots into the crowds, using tear gas and beating protestors. At least 15 Tibetans are reported to have been hospitalised. Such violent tactics by the Chinese authorities will only heighten tensions and likely inflame the current situation.

We are aware the Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued a statement on 13 July noting it was saddened by Tenzin Deleks death. However, a stronger message is warranted given the injustices faced by Tenzin Delek, China's failure to grant medical parole and their refusal to release his body to his family. China must also be called upon to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances of Tenzin Delek's death and to publicise the findings.

Therefore, we urge you to make a public statement as soon as possible, with the following points:

Condemn China over the death in prison of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and their failure to release him on medical parole.

Call on China to release the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche immediately to allow his family to conduct traditional funeral rites.

Call on China to launch an official inquiry into the circumstances of the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and to make the findings public.

Call on China to allow Tibetans the right to mourn and peacefully protest in public and to ensure security forces exercise restraint in dealing with public gatherings.

We look forward to hearing from you on this matter and seeing a public statement as soon as possible. We also hope the government will increase its efforts towards helping resolve the grievances of Tibetans living under Chinese rule.

Yours sincerely,

Philippa Carrick
CEO, Tibet Society

Padma Dolma
Director, Students for a Free Tibet UK

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. Annual membership 24; Family 36; Life 500.
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