Mianyang (AsiaNews) - Tibetan monk, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a symbol of the struggle for the liberation of Tibet died overnight. Tenzin, 65 years old, had served 13 years of a life sentence in prison in Mianyang, Sichuan Province. The cleric has long suffered from heart problems which, according to human rights groups, were never properly treated by his captors.
A Tibetan source reported to Radio Free Asia, reports that " Chinese police informed his relatives that he was seriously ill and when they rushed to visit him, they were told he was already dead." Another source says that the monks’ body has not been made to the family after the death at 16 Another source said Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's body has not been handed over to his family after his death at 4:00 p.m. local time
Two of his relatives had been in Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, for more than a week hoping to visit the ailing monk in Mianyang jail but they were not allowed by the authorities to see him, the source said.
Tenzin was sentenced to death in December 2002 along with 28-year old activist, Lobsang Dhondup, for an attack in Chengdu that took place in April of the same year: The explosion of a bomb killed one person and wounded a second. Chinese officials have always refused to hold an open trial (as opposed the requirements of law) and to issue the verdict or indictments.
Lobsang Dhondup was executed in January 2003, while Tenzin's sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.
In a report published two years after the end of the trial, Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded in a report two years after the trial that the legal proceedings against Tenzin Delek Rinpoche had been "procedurally flawed" and that he was charged only in order to "curb his efforts to foster Tibetan Buddhism ... and his work to develop Tibetan social and cultural institutions."
Students for a Free Tibet, a nonprofit organization based in New York, called news of the death of Tenzin "devastating", describing him as, "a Tibetan hero", a "revered teacher of Tibetan Buddhism and a brave advocate of its people", who died "in suspicious circumstances". The group reported that "the Tibetans living in Tibet are already asking local authorities to hand over the body, to for Buddhist burial".
Recognized in the 1980s by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnate lama, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a leader of the Tibetan community and for decades an advocate of the preservation of the Tibetan environment, culture, religion and lifestyle. According to the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) the monk was imprisoned "for a crime he did not commit."
In 2010, Tibetans organized a global day of mobilization for the release of the religious, launching a petition and collecting 40 thousand signatures. According to ICT, "the 40 thousand signatories – who accompanied their signature with theirfingerprint in red ink - know that they risk their freedom and perhaps life for speaking out in favor of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche".