MP calls on China to review Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's case
[16 June 2010] As part of a global action, Fabian Hamilton MP called on the Chinese government to urgently re-examine the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Mr Hamilton's request was in a letter addressed to the Chinese Ambassador to the UK.

The letter accompanied a 40,000-signature petition which was hand delivered to the Chinese Embassy in London by Tibet Society Chair Fredrick Hyde-Chambers and Chief Executive Philippa Carrick. Fabian Hamilton's letter is copied in full below.

(Read Tibet Society's press release on the global day of action for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.)



HE Liu Xiaoming
Chinese Ambassador
49-51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL

16 June 2010

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing to request the opportunity to discuss and raise my concerns about the case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly revered Tibetan Buddhist lama and community leader from Lithang, eastern Tibet.

In 2002, along with one of his students, Lobsang Dhondup, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was found guilty of "conspiring to cause explosions"; on 2 December 2002 both men were sentenced to death, with Tenzin Delek Rinpoche receiving a two-year reprieve. In January 2003, Lobsang Dhondup was executed. Two years later, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

It was reported that during the trial Tenzin Delek Rinpoche claimed he had been tortured and the main evidence presented against him was a confession from Lobsang Dhondup; Lobsang later retracted this statement claiming he had been tortured. In view of the new legal regulations issued by the Chinese government in May, which state that evidence obtained through torture and intimidaton cannot be used in criminal prosecutions, I would hope that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche 's case will be reopened and a new trial conducted based on evidence that has not been elicited through torture whilst in detention.

Now 59, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has been reported to have been in poor health for some years, which is thought to be primarily as a result of the torture he endured following his arrest in 2002 and subsequent prison conditions. Recent news suggests his condition has worsened considerably - he is suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease and problems with his legs. Although he is apparently receiving medical treatment, he has been denied the Tibetan medicine he requested.

His family is seriously concerned for him and is hoping that the authorities will now show clemency. A recent report indicates that his life sentence may have been reduced to a fixed term sentence of 20 years. I would very much appreciate clarification on this point and, if it is the case, whether this will see a reduction in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's sentence.

In June 2009, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche told a community member who visited him in prison, “I am not guilty, please appeal for justice for me …”. In a remarkable act of support, 40,000 Tibetans in his community signed petitions - many signatures being in the form of thumbprints - demanding justice for their leader.

The petition which is being delivered today has over 36,000 signatures, and is also being delivered to Chinese Embassies in Sydney, Tokyo, Delhi, Berlin, Paris, New York, Washington and Toronto. The petition mirrors the ones circulated in Tibet. It is addressed to Zhou Yongkang, the Party Secretary in Sichuan Province where Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is detained, and calls on him to immediately grant Tenzin Delek Rinpoche independent legal assistance and a new trial on the basis of three points:
  • that there is no proof against him;
  • that he steadfastly asserts his innocence;
  • that there is a widespread belief in Tibet and worldwide that he was framed by local Chinese officials.
If, in a new trial, no credible evidence is presented against Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, the petition demands his release.

I look forward to hearing from you and would very much value a meeting to discuss the points raised further.

Respectfully yours sincerely,

Fabian Hamilton
Labour Member of Parliament for Leeds North East
Member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee 2001-2010


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