12/02/2004, 00.00
CHINA – CANADA
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Canadian minister calls on China to spare Tibetan monk's life

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Canadian government, with the support of other governments, is trying to save the life of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Speaking in the Canadian House of Commons, Canada's Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew said that Canada and other governments were trying to get the release of the Tibetan monk. The lama, who has been a political prisoner for several years, was sentenced to death by a Chinese court. He is being held at Prison N. 3 in Chuandong (Sichuan).

Canadian officials have raised lama Tensin's case both in Beijing and Ottawa, Mr Pettigrew said. "We have asked them to stop this execution," he added saying that more recently Canada had been joined by "other foreign governments" in exerting pressure on Beijing.

Tensin Deleg, 52, was sentenced to death in December 2002 along with Lobsang Dhondup, a 28-year-old activist, for an April 2002 bomb attack in Sichuan's capital Chengdu, in which one person was killed and another injured. They were also found guilty of additional attacks in the Ganzi region of west Sichuan.

Contrary to Chinese law, the trial was held in camera, and, arguing national security, the judges refused to read the verdict and make the charges public. Both Tenzin and Lobsang denied the charges, but were still sentenced to the death.

Lobsang Dhondup was executed in January 2003 but his and Tensin's case prompted an international outcry. Tenzin's death sentence was suspended for two years which, traditionally, is a prelude for commuting death sentences to life imprisonment. However, the monk's case remains uncertain because the Chinese government singles out Tibetans for special treatment.

For over ten years now, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has been persecuted by Chinese authorities. The monk has been personally committed to Tibet's independence, environmental protection, and for improving the health, religious and social conditions of Tibetans living in Sichuan. In his case, relations with the authorities went from bad to worse in 1993, when he was successful in having deforestation stopped in the province.

Tenzin is not alone in being persecuted. His relatives and supporters have also been affected, especially in Nyangchu district where the lama lived.

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