China intensifies restriction in Trulku Tenzin Delek’s Monastery

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) received confirmed information from reliable sources that on 18 July 2007 the Chinese authorities in Lithang County has detained an elderly Tibetan supporter of Trulku Tenzin Delek and prohibited the monks of Nalanda Thekchen Jangchup Choeling Monastery from carrying a reception ceremony of Trulku Tenzin Delek’s portrait during the inauguration of newly built assembly prayer hall.

It all began on 18 July 2007 coinciding the Buddhist ceremony of Choekor Duechen (the day on which Buddha Shakyamuni preach the first Sermon), when a large gathering of Tibetans in nomadic area of Othok Village in Lithang County, Kardze Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Prefecture “TAP” organized a traditional annual horse race. The horse race was held near Nalanda Thekchen Jangchup Choeling Monastery with large gathering of Tibetan devotees and spectators alike for the occasion. The monastery was built by Trulku Tenzin Delek and named Kham Nalanda Thekchen Jangchup Choeling Monastery by the late Panchen Lama.

On the same day, the newly-constructed prayer hall (Tib: Dhukhang) of Nalanda Thekchen Jangchup Choeling Monastery was inaugurated with monks carrying the portrait of Trulku Tenzin Delek onto the throne during a reception ceremony. According to the information received by the Centre, the concerned Chinese government officials entered the monastery and banned monks from carrying out such activities and probed into the carrier of the portrait. It was reported that a large number of general public present during the ceremony have exhibited a clear sign of disapproval of authorities’ decree and highhandedness in handling the matter.

A day later on 19 July, the local Chinese government official came to Othok Village and detained an elderly Tibetan lady whose name could not be identified, for her alleged ‘crime’ of motivating people to go and meet Trulku Tenzin Delek. The officials were also known to have warned and issued order to the village committee to manage their people and be responsible for their action.

In the backdrop of the incident, the authorities of Lithang County sent People’s Armed Police (PAP) and put the monastery and surrounding areas under severe restriction. Because of which a group of local people from Lithang went to lodge their complaint to the higher authorities in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, “TAP”. They were also reported to have barred from going there. Another group of ten Tibetans from Nyachuka County while on their way to lodge complaint regarding authorities’ highhandedness were said to have been detained.

Trulku Tenzin Delek (aka- A ngag Tashi), a highly respected Tibetan monk who vociferously spearheaded the activities for environmental protection, culture and preservation of Tibetan Buddhism was arrested on charges of series of bombing incidents in 2002 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture “TAP”

On 7 April 2002, Kardze Intermediate People’s Court in Kardze “TAP” of Sichuan Province “TAP” found Trulku guilty of conducting “terrorist bombings and inciting secession activities.” On 2 December 2002, Trulku was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve along with Lobsang Dhondup, a disciple of Trulku for “causing explosion” and “inciting separatism”

Both Trulku and Lobsang Dhondup refused to accept the court verdict and appealed to Sichuan Higher People’s Court to revoke their death sentence, which rejected their appeal and upheld the original verdict in the second-instance trial and on January 26, 2003 handed down the same verdict. Lobsang Dhondup was given an immediate death sentence and executed on the same day of the court’s verdict.

On 25 January 2005, the Higher People’s Court in Sichuan province, in Southwestern China, commuted the death penalty with two-year reprieve for a Trulku to life term and deprivation of political rights for life. There has been no credible information on the current whereabouts and condition of Trulku Tenzin Delek since the court verdict and it remain a matter of great concern given his poor health condition prior to his arrest and other health complication during the period of detention.

It is widely believed that Trulku Tenzin Delek is framed with false allegations of involvement in bombing incidents. He has been under close scrutiny by Chinese authorities for his strong support of Tibetan culture and religion, his rising popularity in the local Tibetan community, his staunch support for Tibet’s leader in exile, the Dalai Lama and his teachings, and his social welfare activities in Lithang County including setting up schools, old people’s home, constructing monasteries and resolving community disputes.

TCHRD believes that Trulku is innocent and was wrongly implicated in the bombing incidents and urged the Chinese authorities to ascertain his whereabouts, well-being and release him immediately. TCHRD also request for a free and fair retrial as per the international standard legal norms and practices.

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