By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Aug 2: The Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) released a statement that demanded proof of Bangri Tsamtrul Rinpoche’s release from prison after he completed his sentence on July 31st. The reincarnated lama of Nangchen Bangri Monastery, also known as Jigme Tenzin Nima, was born in Nangchen County, Kyegudo Tibet Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province.
The founder of Gyatso orphanage was detained on Augut 27, 1999 along with his wife Nyima Choedon on charges of their alleged participation with contractor Tashi Tsering’s attempt to blow himself up at Lhasa Plaza after the 6th National Minority Games. He was sentenced for serving 18 years of life imprisonment and Choedon was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Chushur County prison near Lhasa.
The human rights group said that there has been no confirmation from any authorities on Rinpoche’s release, as the report argued that Chinese officials withheld all information about his condition since 2005 when he was suffering from heart disease and gallstone complications. The closed door trial in 2000 at the Lhasa Municipality Intermediate People’s Court convicted both of them on the charges of ‘splittism’.
TCHRD raised concerns about his whereabouts as China dealt with “extreme secrecy” on his case for more than two decades, “TCHRD calls upon Chinese authorities to issue a public confirmation with verifiable evidence that Bangri Rinpoche has been released with sound physical and psychological health conditions. Chinese authorities must guarantee that Rinpoche is provided with necessary medical care without delay and that his supplementary sentence of ‘deprivation of political rights’ for life is not used as a pretext to impose further restrictions on his human rights.”
Bangri Rinpoche was a philanthropist in the region, looking after the welfare of orphaned children through education at a school that he established from his own expenses and generous donations. In 1996, the orphanage was founded in Gyatso Township near the Norbulingka Palace where forty orphans from various parts of Tibet were admitted.
Both Rinpoche and Choedon took care of the institution where the children were taught Tibetan, Chinese and English languages along with mathematics. After their arrest, the orphanage was closed as it was declared illegal. Nyima Choedon was released in February 2006 after her sentence was reduced.