Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, the Tibetan Buddhist leader who was sentenced to death in a suspect trial last month in connection with an explosion, has begun a hunger strike in protest of his treatment in detention, which sources say has included torture. Sources say his appeal will be heard on January 10.
Rinpoche reportedly began the hunger strike on January 6, 2003, saying that Chinese authorities are denying him a fair trial, according to a well-informed source. He is being detained in Dhartsedo (Ch: Kanding) in Kanze Autonomous Prefecture in present-day Sichuan Province.
The source, who is in touch with people close to the case, said that the hunger strike began after two officials from the Central Government visited Tenzin Delek on January 6, 2003.
Rinpoche is reported to have told the two officials that he did not wish to respond to their queries, as they were not interested in finding out the truth.
News of the hunger strike follows news last week that Tenzin Delek was denied representation by Zhang Sizhi and Li Huigeng, two prominent lawyers from Beijing.
The source also said that Rinpoche has experienced physical torture while in detention.
While this information has not been independently corroborated, ICT believes the source to be credible and in direct communication with people close to the case.
The scheduling of the appeal hearing on January 10, 2003, was also confirmed by Chinese writer Wang Lixiong in a January 8 interview with Radio Free Asia.
Wang has been working to provide legal support to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.
The source also said there was no information on the whereabouts of three other monks who were arrested along with Rinpoche in April of 2002. The monks, Tsultrim Dhargye, 36, Tadrin Tsering, 33, and Ashar Dhargye, 40, are believed to have been working with Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. A fourth monk, Pasang, was subsequently released.
Amnesty International has issued an appeal on their behalf, the text of which is given below.
AI Index: ASA 17/002/2003
Further Information on Extra 89/02 (ASA 17/059/2002, 6 December 2002) 09 January 2003
Fear of imminent execution/death penalty/unfair trial, new concern: torture or ill-treatment
PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
– Lobsang Dhondup (also known as Luo Rang Deng Zhu) (m)
– Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche (also known as Ngawang Tashi or A An Zha Xi) (m)
Amnesty International has received unconfirmed reports that Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche are due to be taken to a court hearing on 10 January. It is feared that Lobsang Dhondup may be at heightened risk of imminent execution following this hearing.
Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche has also reportedly been tortured or ill-treated in detention by being shackled hand and foot and suspended from above. He has reportedly started a hunger strike to protest at his treatment. The circumstances of Lobsang Dhondup’s detention remain unclear.
On 2 December 2002, the Kardze (Ganzi) Intermediate People’s Court in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province had sentenced Lobsang Dhondup to death for “inciting separatism”, “causing explosions” and “illegal possession of guns and ammunition”. Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche received a death sentence with a two year suspension for “causing explosions” and “inciting separatism”.
Following the original verdict in December 2002, the authorities reportedly announced that the two defendants had appealed and that the appeal was being considered by the Sichuan High People’s Court, which is based in the provincial capital, Chengdu. To Amnesty International’s knowledge, the Chinese authorities have made no further information public about the process.
It is unclear whether tomorrow’s hearing relates to the appeal process. Unofficial sources indicate that it is due to take place in Dartsedo in Kardze rather than in Chengdu. This suggests that it may relate in some way to the original trial, rather than an appeal hearing.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Chinese or your own language:
(Luo Rang Deng Zhu and A An Zha Xi are the Chinese names of Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. Please use these Chinese names in letters to the authorities).
– once again urging the authorities to immediately stop the execution of Luo Rang Deng Zhu (Lobsang Dhondup) and to commute the death sentences passed against both Luo Rang Deng Zhu (Lobsang Dhondup) and A An Zha Xi (Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche);
– expressing concerns at reports that Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche has been tortured in detention and calling on the authorities to conduct a full, impartial and independent investigation into these allegations with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice;
– calling on the authorities to make public full details about the judicial process and conditions of detention of the two men;
– expressing concern that the two men may have been falsely accused because of their religious or community activities;
– urging the authorities to conduct an immediate review of the case and, if charges are well-founded, to conduct a re-trial in an open court ensuring that the defendants are given full facilities to prepare and present their defence in line with international fair trial standards. Otherwise, they should be released unconditionally.
APPEALS TO: (Please note fax numbers may be difficult to obtain, but please keep trying)
Acting Governor of the Sichuan Provincial People’s Government
ZHANG Zhongwei Daishengzhang
Sichuansheng Renmin Zhengfu
People’s Republic of China
Telegram: Provincial Governor, Chengdu, China
Fax: +86 28 435 6784 / 435 6789 (c/o Foreign Affairs office of Sichuan Provincial People’s Government)
Salutation: Dear Governor
Director of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Justice
ZENG Xianzhang Tingzhang
Chengdushi 610015, Sichuansheng
People’s Republic of China
Telegram: Director, Sichuan Justice Department, Chengdu, China
Fax: +86 28 435 6784 / 435 6789 (c/o Foreign affairs office of Sichuan Provincial People’s Government)
Salutation: Dear Director
Minister of Justice
Sifaju (Ministry of Justice)
10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
People’s Republic of China
Telegram: Justice Minister, Beijing, China
Fax: +86 10 65 292345
Salutation: Dear Minister
COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of People’s Republic of China accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 20 February 2003.