By Phuntsok Yangchen
SFT's Asia Director Dorjee Tsetan speaks about the campaign/April 7, 2014/Phayul Photo/Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, April 7: A global day of action for the release of Buddhist leader and philanthropist Trulku Tenzin Delek was held here today, twelve years since his arrest on April 7, 2002.
A daylong campaign was organized by the Students for a Free Tibet, India and followers of Trulku Tenzin Delek to demand the release of the 64-year-old Buddhist monk, who the Tibetans say, was framed by the Chinese government for false charges.
Around thirty Tibetan nuns from Dolmaling nunnery sat on a daylong hunger strike at Martyrs pillar (Pawo Doring) near Tsuglakhang, the main temple in Mcleod Ganj.
Delek Yangchen, one of the nuns, said, “It’s been 12 years since Trulku Tenzin Delek’s arrest. He is 64 years old now and his health is deteriorating. Therefore, today we sit on hunger strike to appeal the international community to support in urging the Chinese government to provide him medical care and release him immediately.”
Geshe Nyima, a former disciple of Trulku, said, “Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is an innocent man. We came to know that his health condition has deteriorated in prison and is very critical. Every day he spends in prison is one day too many.”
A documentary film on Trulku, “Fearless Times of Trulku Tenzin Delek” was also screened for the public.
Similar events are being organized by Students for a Free Tibet chapters and Tibet groups in major cities around the world including Delhi, New York, Warsaw, Vienna, Zurich, Brussels and Toronto.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has also expressed its concerns for Trulku Tenzin Delek and urged the Chinese government to release Trulku on humanitarian grounds. TCHRD also appealed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, governments and the international community to press on China to release Trulku.
Former political prisoners including Palden Gyatso and Ama Adhe also voiced their demands for Trulku’s release at the site of the hunger strike, also attended by Tibetan members of Parliament Bawa Kelsang Gyaltsen and Jamyang Soepa.
“Today, on the Global Day of Action for the Release of Tenzin Delek RInpoche, Tibet campaigners and supporters are coming together with Trulku’s family and students across the world to create the public attention this campaign deserves. Today is a one day global action call and this is an ongoing campaign that we will work on over the year,” said Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director of Students for a Free Tibet.
Trulku was arrested on April 7, 2002, along with his niece and disciple Lobsang Dhondup, in alleged connection with bombblasts in Chengdu's main square (Tianfu Square) and other areas of eastern Tibet.
Before his arrest Trulku had been under close scrutiny by the government for his strong support of Tibetan culture and religion, his affiliation to the Dalai Lama, his political popularity in the local Tibetan community and his social welfare activities in Lithang County including setting up schools, old people’s home and the resolution of community disputes.
On 2 December 2002, Lobsang Dhondup was sentenced to death, and Trulku Tenzin Delek to death with a two-year reprieve. Lobsang Dhondup was immediately executed. Trulku’s sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment on January 26, 2005 after an international outcry. In 2011, reports emerged that Trulku was suffering from a heart ailment.
According to Tulku’s aides who have known him, Tulku had appealed his followers and supporters to continue working for his release during a prison visit in November last year.
“You make appeals to authorities as much as you can. There are people who are making appeals for me, there are people who are talking about my condition getting worse. If there was a possibility to fall then I should have already fallen. You do appeal and campaign, anything that you could do,” Tulku Tenzin Delek had told his disciples on November 6, 2013.