DHARAMSALA, AUG 10: Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a Tibetan rights group based in Dharamsala has reiterated its call for an independent and impartial investigation into Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death in prison while confirming the release of Rinpoche’s sister and niece who have been arbitrarily detained for about two weeks.
“Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death was the result of a series of human rights violations. Even after his death, human rights abuses continue unabated and justice is being denied to him and his family members. An investigation into his death has not been carried out,” TCHRD said in a statement released on Aug 7.
“The government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has a legal obligation to carry out the investigation to determine whether the death was caused intentionally or by negligence,” the Tibetan rights group demanded.
TCHRD also confirmed that Rinpoche’s sister Dolkar Lhamo, age 52, and niece Nyima Lhamo, age 25, who were arbitrarily detained on July 17 from a restaurant in Chengdu after Dolkar Lhamo submitted a petition calling for an investigation into Rinpoche’s death were released on July 30 and returned to their hometown in Nyagchukha county in tradional Kham province’s Kardze prefecture.
“There is no information on their current physical and psychological condition. No charges were filed against them. However, family and friends living outside Tibet fear that both women had been subjected to beatings, intimidation and possibly torture during the almost two-week detention,” TCHRD said.
TCHRD has also urged the local Chinese authorities to lift the communication ban on Rinpoche’s family members and ease restrictions on local Tibetans and the monasteries founded by Rinpoche.
“Following their release, local authorities have barred family members of Rinpoche from contacting those relatives who live outside Tibet. Local authorities have collected mobile phone numbers of Dolkar Lhamo, Nyima Lhamo and other family members, and blocked all outgoing calls to and incoming calls from outside Tibet. As of now, Rinpoche’s family members and relatives in Nyagchukha can only communicate among themselves. Local police have also warned them against initiating any gatherings to discuss about the matter,” TCHRD said.
According to TCHRD, restrictions on communication channels have also been imposed in and around Nyagchukha and Chinese troops have been deployed at Rinpoche’s monasteries to stop lay Tibetans from attending prayers sessions in honour of Rinpoche at these monasteries.
Since July 17, local Tibetans who had been attending prayer sessions in large numbers at these monasteries following Rinpoche’s death have been barred from attending prayer sessions. However, monks at the monasteries are allowed to continue with prayers and rituals.
TCHRD in its statement has also urged the local Chinese authorities to lift the communication ban on Rinpoche’s family members and ease restrictions on local Tibetans and the monasteries founded by Rinpoche.
Rinpoche’s ashes which were given to four Tibetans after repeated requests and appeals were snatched by a group of police officers when they reached Chaksam County. The police officers claimed that they were acting under the orders of the central government and even threatened to throw the ashes in the nearby Chaksam Kha River when the Tibetans protested. Whether the police officers threw the ashes into the river like they said remain unknown.