Relatives of Trulku Tenzin Delek on the plane to Beijing. From left: Donkar Wangmo, Sogren Lori and Lhagma Choedrup/TCHRD Photo
DHARAMSALA AUGUST 7 – China has released four Tibetan men detained two weeks ago for petitioning the Chinese central authorities in Beijing to release Trulku Tenzin Delek, a popular religious figure from Kardze (Ch: Ganzi), jailed in 2002 for alleged links to a series of bombing incidents.
An undated picture of Sogren Lori/TCHRD photo
The four Tibetan men Sogren Lori, 66, Lugzi Abey, 50, Lhagma Choedup, 64, and Trinley, 46, were detained on 20 July at Chengdu after their return from Beijing, Dharamsala based right group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a press release Wedneday. Trulku Tenzin Delek’s sister Donkar Lhamo, 47, was also among the group although she was not detained. The group, representing local Tibetans in Nyagchu County, visited Beijing from 9 July to submit petition to the Chinese central government and other relevant offices. Calling Tulku Tenzin Delek their “saviour for this life and the next,” the petition urged for his release on medical grounds or for the reopening of his case. The petition pointed out that calls for a harmonious society by Chinese leaders can only be realised if the genuine aspirations of the common people were fulfilled.
Officers from the Nyagchu County Public Security Bureau (PSB) detained the four men for fourteen days at Kara Detention Centre in Nyagchu County. The four men were asked to pay Yuan 4,000 each to secure their release. However, the detained and their family members refused to pay the arbitrary fine imposed by the County PSB. Last week, they were released albeit on different days without paying the fine.
Lhagma Choedup/TCHRD photo
Trulku Tenzin Delek is a highly revered religious leader and an outspoken admirer and follower of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. In 1983, His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognised him as the reincarnation of Geshe Adham Phuntsok and gave him the name, Trulku Tenzin Delek. After he returned to Tibet in 1987, Trulku was constantly under surveillance for alleged political activities and connections with the Dalai Lama. Until his arrest on 7 April 2002, Trulku was active in social welfare activities in Lithang County.
Following a series of bomb blasts in 2001 and 2002 in eastern Tibet, Chinese officials charged Trulku along with Lobsang Dhondup for carrying out the blasts. Both men were sentenced to death in 2002. Lobsang Dhondup was executed in January 2003 while Trulku’s death penalty was communted to life imprisonment.
According to Trulku’s relatives and disciples, the latest petition calls on the Chinese authorities to withdraw false “terrorism” charges against Trulku since thousands of Tibetans in Nyagchu County have for many years petitioned all levels of local government rejecting the charges. In December 2009, more than 30,000 Tibetans in Nyagchu County signed a petition calling for the philanthropist’s release.
Since his imprisonment in 2002, Trulku’s relatives were allowed to visit him only six times. Each visit lasted for around half an hour and a prison official always stood keeping a close eye on the visitors. Prison officials had also told Trulku’s visitors not to discuss anything “unpleasant” or “irrelevant” saying they would not take responsibility if something happened to Trulku who was suffering from “chronic cardiac illness and hypertension.”
Trulku’s relatives say that Trulku maintained his earlier stand that he had done nothing to violate Chinese laws, further asking his relatives to arrange for re-trial or appeal for medical parole.
TCHRD called on the Chinese government to release Trulku Tenzin Delek on medical parole as a "first step toward a future retrial". TCHRD maintained that both Trulku and Lobsang Dhondup were falsely charged and their basic human rights were denied during the entire process from detention to sentencing. Both were kept under secret detention for seven months before their appearance in a court trial.