By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, July 12: Tibetan political prisoner Yeshi Choedon was awarded the inaugural ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ at a felicitation held today at hotel Norbu House in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala.
Commemorating the first death anniversary of Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, International Tibet Network in association with Tibetan Women’s Association and Students for a Free Tibet launched ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’, a new international Tibetan human rights defenders award.
In recognition of her courage and dedication for promoting human rights and justice for the Tibetan people, Yeshe Choedon, a retired Tibetan doctor and political prisoner, reported to be in weak health condition, was awarded the inaugural ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’.
Accepting the award on Choedon’s behalf from the Chief Guest Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok, President of Tibetan Women’s Association Dolma Yangchen said, “By honoring Yeshe Choedron, we are paying tribute to her courage and the courage of thousands of other Tibetans in Tibet who have spent years of their lives unfairly imprisoned or detained for the important roles they have played in the struggle for Tibetan freedom”.
“Yeshe Choedon, this year’s recipient, represents thousands of Tibetans in Tibet who work non-violently to promote and protect the human rights of the Tibetan people,” she added.
Choedon was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Chinese authorities for allegedly providing “intelligence and information harmful to the security and interests of the Chinese government” to the Central Tibetan Administration, earlier known as the Tibetan government-in-exile.
According to Ven Tenzin Ngodup, a former student in Tibet and a member of Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Service Community in exile now, Trulku Delek established many monasteries and schools in Tibet and actively campaigned for the protection of Tibet’s fragile environment.
In 1987, on numerous occasions in Lithang in the traditional Tibetan Province of Kham, Rinpoche urged Tibetans to refrain from practicing Dhol gyal (a deity considered highly sectarian by the Dalai Lama and Tibetans) worship and directed many of his students to complete their religious lessons in India.
Trulku Delek also campaigned against deforestation and protection of endangered species in Tibet.
Other programmes on the occasion include, launch of two books on Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, awarding Tibetan martyr scholarship of Rs 1 lakh to the outstanding performer in class XII board exams and a photo exhibition on Trulku Tenzin Delek as well.
Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a well respected Tibetan spiritual teacher who passed away under mysterious circumstances on July 12, 2015 after spending 13 years of his life sentence in Chinese custody as Chinese government continued to ignore repeated calls made by Tibetans and international bodies to release Rinpoche on medical parole.