Tenzin Delek Rinpoche/undated
Dharamsala, December 8 - An unknown number of Tibetans have been detained in Sichuan following a protest demanding the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a Tibetan Lama jailed in 2002 for alleged involvement in a series of bombings in Kardze County, the Radio Free Asia
Though the exact number of Tibetans detained Saturday (December 5, 2009) is unclear it could well exceed 150, RFA
reported citing a source in exile who has been in contact with witnesses. (Meanwhile, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, an NGO based here, puts the arrested number of Tibetans at around sixty.)
"About 60 Tibetans, mostly youths from Othok, went to Nyakchukha county center and appealed for the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche," the source told RFA
citing contact with several witnesses.
"When they reached the county center, security forces assaulted and detained them. Their motorbikes were smashed and dumped into army vehicles. When other Tibetans learned about the incident, more Tibetans arrived from the Golok and Othok areas," he added.
"The Chinese forces put up roadblocks, but many Tibetans climbed hills and moved towards the county. My sources said there are nearly 500 Tibetans, both male and female. Some said that about 160 were detained."
Another source from nearby Lithang told RFA
that 60-70 protesters were being held at a newly built detention center located about four miles (6.5 kms) from the Nyakchukha county center.
There is currently a strong presence of Chinese security forces in both Nyakchukha and Lithang, according to the source.
A group of Tibetans from Golok and Othok had traveled to Beijing to petition for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's release but were detained and beaten, said another source, citing contacts with witnesses.
"When they were brought back to the county center, other local Tibetans stood up in support of those who were severely beaten," the source was quoted by RFA
"A group of Tibetan youths from the Othok area arrived at the county center on motorbikes. They were also attacked, and the security forces took away all the motorbikes in two army trucks. Several of them were detained and loaded in vehicles," he said.
"I was told many Tibetans who could not be detained are being blocked and surrounded by security forces in a valley not far from the County center."
On 2 December 2002, the Kardze Intermediate People's Court in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, had sentenced Lobsang Dhondup, a relative of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, to death for "inciting separatism", "causing explosions" and "illegal possession of guns and ammunition". He was executed on January 26, 2003, despite huge international outcry.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche received a death sentence with a two year reprieve for "causing explosions" and "inciting separatism". Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, based at a monastery in nomad-dominated Othok, was granted a two-year reprieve, then had his sentence commuted to life in 2005.
On 5 December 2009, a group of seven Tibetans which later swelled to around sixty Tibetans, mostly youth from Othog proceeded to Nyagchuka County government headquarter to appeal for an immediate release of Tulku Tenzin Delek, stating that their revered spiritual teacher was wrongly charged and sentenced by the Sichuan Higher People’s Court in 2002.
It was on the night of 5 December 2009, petitioners who gathered at County government headquarter for the entire day were rounded up and taken to an unknown location.
Sources told TCHRD on the morning of 6 December 2009, motorbikes and clothes belonging to petitioners were left unattended with bloodstains. There were also bloodstains on ground as well. The petitioners are largely believed to be detained in a military compound near Nyagchuka County.
Thereafter Tibetans from various parts of Nyagchuka County have been flocking to Nyagchuka County government headquarter to obtain the release of around sixty Tibetan detainees. However Chinese security forces on the way stopped them from reaching the County Headquarter. Meanwhile a fairly large contingent of People’s Armed Police (PAP) has been brought to place called Thang Karma (White Open Field) practicing martial acts and military drills to intimidate the local Tibetans.
Meanwhile, sources say that many elderly Tibetans and children has been going to the Chinese government Township office at Thang Karma (White Open Field) to appeal to the Chinese government to release Tulku Tenzin Delek.
Despite their petitions, Chinese officials have been turning their deaf ears to their sincere and legitimate call. Nonetheless, the local Tibetans are still holding on to their hopes for an immediate release of their revered spiritual figure.
THE CONTENT OF PETITION
The main content of the petition dealt on describing Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche as their much loved and revered spiritual teacher, immensely important to the local Tibetans. Tulku also being described as a guide, teacher, father figure to them, particularly local Tibetans sought his advice on a range of matters concerning their livelihood. In their appeal they stated that Tulku used to mediate in many land and pasture disputes amongst the local nomads. In his absence in the last seven years, there have been many disputes over land and pasture ownerships, which led to deaths of several Tibetans. They also described that Tulku’s absence has been keenly felt and that they are too eager to feel the spiritual presence of Tulku. They also described that they need a spiritual guide who could perform religious rites for Tibetan devotees, particularly to perform Phowa (transferring of consciousness) rite related to guiding the consciousness of dead people in their journey to the next lives. They also explained that to regain peace and harmony once existed in the locality, Tulku must be released and once again be amongst them.