DHARAMSALA, Aug 30: Upon receiving information on serious health condition of Trulku Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche (also known as Pangri-na Rinpoche), a prominent reincarnated lama from Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has called upon the Special Rapporteur on torture, and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to investigate the causes of Rinpoche’s detention and his subsequent treatment.
TCHRD further urged them to raise the arbitrary detention of Rinpoche for his religious beliefs and his torture in prison with the Chinese government.
TCHRD said it received information on Rinpoche’s health condition from a Tibetan source who saw Rinpoche by chance early this month while visiting another prisoner at Mianyang Prison, located about two hours from Chengdu city.
“At first I couldn’t recognize him as he had become so weak, almost emaciated. It looks like he is not being treated well in prison,” TCHRD quoted the source as saying in a report on published on Aug 28.
Rinpoche was the chief patron and the head of Pangri and Ya-tseg nunneries located in Kardze.
He was arrested on May 18, 2008 from his residence following a peaceful protest march carried out four days earlier by more than 80 nuns of Pangri-na Nunnery in Su-ngo Township in Kardze County against the implementation of ‘patriotic education’ campaign at their nunnery. He was 53 at the time of his arrest.
Though Chinese authorities did not provide any reason for Rinpoche’s arrest, local Tibetans believe that the arrest may have had to do with Rinpoche’s unwavering faith in the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, who lives in exile in Dharamsala, India.
“Chinese authorities accused Rinpoche of indulging in separatist activities, when he led the monks and nuns of Yatseg Nunnery and Pangri-na Nunnery organize a life-long prayer ceremony (Tib: Tenshug) for His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2002. The nuns moreover opposed the ‘patriotic education’ campaigns conducted in their nunnery, refusing to sign on the documents condemning His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” TCHRD quoted the same source as saying.
Following his arrest, he was kept in secret detention and information on Rinpoche’s whereabouts and condition was not known to anyone. At the same time, Chinese security forces launched a severe crackdown on Pangri and Ya-tseg nunneries, subjecting the nuns to severe restrictions and control.
Information about Rinpoche only became available on Dec 23, 2009 when an Intermediate People’s Court at Dartsedo County sentenced him to eight years and six months for possession of weapons.
Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche was born on 2 January 1957 to Tsewang Dargye and Yangchen Lhamo at Chigring Village of Serkhar Township in Kardze County, the area known to Tibetans as Kham Tehor.