Press Release, 26 January 2007
London - Exactly two years after his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in a case labelled 'egregious' by the EU, Tibetan monk and environmental champion, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche(1),has been largely forgotten by the governments which campaigned so vigorously to overturn his death sentence. The inertia surrounding his case has ensured no progress in the reopening of the case to investigate the safety of the conviction, and no news has been received as to the condition and welfare of Rinpoche. Tragically, his fate mirrors that of Tibet and its people, largely forgotten by a world absorbed in the extraordinary economic transformation of China.
China's state media announced last week that China is to cooperate with the United Nations (UN) on a range of issues including the development of civil society and environmental challenges(2).
However, China's imprisonment of Rinpoche was intended to silence the inspirational Tibetan leader whose very championing of the environment had pitted him against the full force of the Chinese State, determined to promote unchecked economic growth through practices such as pollutive mining and logging projects on the Tibetan Plateau.
"Western governments must demand forcefully and publicly that Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche's case is re-opened and access given to international observers", said Matt Whitticase of Free Tibet Campaign."If China really wished to demonstrate its commitment to the environment and the development of civil society it would launch an open and transparent investigation into the trial and conviction of Rinpoche who did so much to oppose destructive and polluting mining and logging projects on the Tibetan Plateau. And to have any credibility, China's recent announcement of co-operation with the UN must be tested against demonstrable improvements in the fields of human rights and environmental protection. If not, it will represent merely the latest in a string of eye-catching announcements from China, aimed at deflecting global attention away from the grim reality of ruthless political repression in Tibet and China in the run up to the
2008 Beijing Games."
Notes to Editor:
(1) Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche is a well respected lama and community leader from the Kham region of eastern Tibet who incurred the wrath of local Chinese officials, reported to be profiting from the mining and clear-cutting projects opposed by Rinpoche. He was arrested on charges of involvement in a bomb explosion in April 2002 and was given a two year suspended death sentence on 26 January 2003 after a high-profile international campaign to raise the profile of his case.
The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on 26 January 2005. Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche maintains his innocence and China has failed to produce any evidence showing his involvement in the bombing. Further details of his case can be found at: http://www.freetibet.org/campaigns/tdr/index.html
(2) The official China Daily reported on 20 January 2007 that China is to cooperate with the United Nations (UN) on a range of issues including the development of civil society, cultural development in ethnic-minority populated areas and environmental challenges such as biodiversity, renewable resources and conservation. It was also announced that the UN would be working with China to stage a forum on Tibet in the middle of this year without giving further details on what precisely such a forum would focus.
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