Tulku Tenzin Delek/file photo
Dharamsala, January 27 - Students for a free Tibet, India joined Tibetans and supporters throughout the world yesterday in a Thumbprint Campaign in solidarity with Tibetans in Nyakchuka County who signed a petition calling for the release of Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche.
On 2 December 2002, the Kardze Intermediate People's Court in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, 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 on January 26, 2005.
“What happened on 26th January, 2005 ascertains the strength of global grassroots organizing. The pressure from the international community pushed the Chinese authorities into commuting Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death sentence to life imprisonment.” said Tenzin Choeying, National Director of Students for a free Tibet, India. “We should continue to pressurize the Chinese government for his release”
In June 2009, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche told a community member who visited him in prison, “I am not guilty, please appeal for justice for me....call all people together and do everything possible to help me overturn the verdict”. Following his appeal, thousands of Tibetans in his community signed petitions – many signatures being in the form of thumbprints – demanding justice for their leader.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is a revered philanthropist and a religious leader as well as a visionary and consistent advocate of Tibetan identity and culture.
“It is such an irony for China, who puts so much effort to seek global acceptance as a world superpower, on the other hand, is threatened by the existence of a Tibetan monk in Tibet” said Dhondup Gyalpo, one of the volunteers of Students for a free Tibet. “The Chinese authority is insecure because Tenzin Delek Rinpoche gained huge popularity amongst Tibetans and Chinese because of his goodwill towards Tibetan cultural and environmental preservation.”
SFT, headquartered in New York, is a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world working for free Tibet and Tibetan independence.