The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) condemns the illegal and incommunicado detention of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s relatives and calls for immediate investigation into the death of Rinpoche in Chuangdong Prison near Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Information received by TCHRD confirms the arbitrary detention of Rinpoche’s sister Dolkar Lhamo, age 52, and niece Nyima Lhamo, age 25, at an undisclosed location after they submitted a petition calling for an investigation into circumstances leading to Rinpoche’s death. Both women were detained on 17 July from a restaurant in Chengdu by police officers from Lithang County, located in Tibetan province of Kham. They have not been heard or seen since then.
TCHRD believes that both relatives have been detained in connection with their sustained campaign to call for the release of Rinpoche’s remains and for calling on the Chinese authorities to launch an impartial investigation into the death of Rinpoche in prison. The petition has been widely shared and circulated by exile Tibetan organisations and submitted by TCHRD to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and relevant Special Procedures division including Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly.
Rinpoche’s relatives did not deserve arbitrary detention and the psychological and physical harm associated with it; they submitted a petition calling for an impartial investigation into the death of Rinpoche. Submitting petitions to challenge the arbitrary use of power by government agencies does not break any law, therefore, the officers who detained them must be made accountable for their unlawful actions.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death was the result of a series of human rights violations. Even after his death, the government of People’s Republic of China (PRC) still has human rights obligations that it is legally obliged to follow. After ignoring its legal obligations and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s rights to be protected from arbitrary detention, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and arbitrary or extrajudicial killings, the PRC should investigate Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death and make the results of the investigation public.