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Free Tibet climbers scale roof of Chinese Embassy in protest at proposed execution of Tibetan religious leader
Free Tibet Campaign[Saturday, December 04, 2004 13:23]
Ex-political prisoner to press UK Minister to act to save Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche's life

Tibet campaigners Katie Mallin and Claire Insley with Free Tibet Campaign's huge Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche photo petition 
Copyright: Nick Cobbing / Free Tibet Campaign
Tibet campaigners Katie Mallin and Claire Insley with Free Tibet Campaign's huge Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche photo petition Copyright: Nick Cobbing / Free Tibet Campaign
London - Two Free Tibet protestors, have scaled the roof of the Chinese Embassy in London, unfurling banners to mark an International Day of Action in protest at plans China may have to execute a peaceful Tibetan religious leader, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche (anytime from December 2 to January 26, 2005). Rinpoche is an important figure in Kham (Ch: Sichuan) as a result of his humanitarian, religious and educational work which China increasingly viewed as a threat.

One of the protesters stated that, "China wishes that the world would forget about Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. China cannot be allowed to set a precedent for executing peaceful religious leaders."

Simultaneous to the roof action, three climbers, Katie Mallin, Mikey Rosato and Claire Insley, unfurled a colourful 200 metre long visual petition, symbolising Tibetan prayer flags, displaying the faces of over 2400 individuals calling for Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche not to be executed. This was displayed on a tree immediately opposite the Chinese Embassy. The climbers will remain until Geshe Lobsang Tenpa, a former student of Rinpoche and himself a former political prisoner, delivers a conventional petition to the Embassy with over 10,000 signatures calling on China not to execute Rinpoche.

"Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche is without doubt one of the most important religious figures in Kham Province and China wants to hold his life to ransom in order to teach other Tibetans that dissent is not tolerated," reiterated Geshe Tenpa, speaking outside the Embassy.

Tibet campaigners Katie Mallin and Claire Insley with Free Tibet Campaign's huge Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche photo petition 
Copyright: Nick Cobbing / Free Tibet Campaign
Tibet campaigners Katie Mallin and Claire Insley with Free Tibet Campaign's huge Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche photo petition Copyright: Nick Cobbing / Free Tibet Campaign
Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche was arrested in April 2002 and accused of a crime he did not commit. The only evidence against him was a confession, later retracted by his co-accused, amidst claims of torture. Rinpoche was tortured prior to trial and has since been held incommunicado. His co-accused Lobsang Dhondup was executed on 26 January 2003. China could execute Rinpoche or commute his sentence to life imprisonment; a death sentence in itself due to torture and terrible prison conditions.

Geshe Lobsang Tenpa is visiting the UK as part of a three country tour which takes in Germany and The Netherlands in advance of the EU-China Summit (8 December) to call on European countries to act to save Rinpoche's life. In 2000 Geshe Tenpa was arrested and tortured by the Chinese authorities for his support of Rinpoche. Following his release, he fled to India and is now resident in the USA, where the information he provided on religious repression in Sichuan formed the basis for the February 2004 Human Rights Watch report entitled, 'Trials Of A Tibetan Monk'.

At 12.15pm, Geshe Lobsang Tenpa will meet with Bill Rammell MP, Minister responsible for human rights and China, in advance of the EU China Summit in the Netherlands on 8 December. Geshe Tenpa will be seeking assurances that the UK Government will press the case for Rinpoche's sentence to be commuted and for a fair and open trial to occur.

Contact: Anne Callaghan on 07905 922701 or Matt Whitticase on 0790 4063746

Events Taking place on 2nd December:

7.30 - 10.30am Chinese Embassy Peaceful protest by Free Tibet Campaign and delivery of petitions on behalf of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche

12.15 - 12.45pm FCO Bill Rammell, Foreign Office Minister responsible for China and Human Rights, receives Lobsang Tenpa

from 7.30pm Indian YMCA Talk by Geshe Lobsang Tenpa (Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square, London W1)


Background

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche is a religious leader from the Tibetan region of Kham (Sichuan Province). He has worked tirelessly on environmental and humanitarian projects as well as promoting Buddhism and the Dalai Lama. He has consequently gained a significant standing locally and became the subject of continued harassment for nearly two decades by the Chinese authorities. Previous attempts to arrest him prior to 11 th September 2001 failed as a result of local campaigning on his behalf. Post 9/11, China sought to exploit the 'global war against terror' and arrested Rinpoche on grounds of involvement in several bombings. Key supporters of Rinpoche were also arrested in order to curtail local campaigns on Rinpoche¹s behalf. At the trial in December 2002 the only evidence produced by the government against Rinpoche was a statement by co-accused Lobsang Dhondup, which was taken under duress and which he later retracted. Lobsang was executed in January 2003 following an appeal hearing. At the same hearing Rinpoche's two year suspended sentence was confirmed.

Rinpoche has been held incommunicado since January 2003. There are profound fears for his health and well-being. At the end of the suspended sentence, China could decide to execute him or commute his sentence to life imprisonment - effectively a death sentence as a consequence of the prevalence of torture and terrible prison conditions.

For more information contact: Anne Callaghan on 020 7324 4605 or 07905 922 701
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