(TibetanReview.net, Jul30, 2016) – A popular Tibetan Buddhist leader who died in prison in highly questionable circumstances in Sichuan Province in Jul 2015 was poisoned by Chinese authorities, reported the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Jul 28, citing his niece who recently fled to India.
China claimed at that time that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, had died of illness despite medical care. However, according to the monk’s niece Nyima Lhamo, 26, she and her mother – the deceased monk’s sister – saw that her uncle’s mouth and finger nails had turned black from poisoning.
“We then asked for the address of any hospital where he had been seen, along with a copy of any medical report they may have prepared, but none of this was given to us,” Lhamo was quoted as saying.
Speaking to the press at Dharamshala on Jul 28, Lhamo has said she and her mother, Dolkar Lhamo, were later detained for two weeks in Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu on suspicion of having shared information about the monk’s death with outside contacts. Both refused to sign a document which required them to undertake not to make further accusations in connection with the monk’s death.
They were eventually released, with the authorities saying their village leader had signed the conditions on their behalf as guarantor.
The Chinese authorities were said to have launched a smear campaign against the monk after his death, calling him a ‘fake lama’ and forbidding his followers from displaying his photo. “No one is allowed to say that he was murdered,” Lhamo has said.
Lhamo has said that by speaking out she was risking the lives of her family and relatives back home. Nevertheless, she wanted the free world to investigate the cause of her uncle’s death.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was not just a popular religious figure but was actively involved in environmental protection and philanthropic care for the children, the poor and the elderly and other social causes. His popularity with the local populace was said to be severely resented by the authorities who falsely charged him with involvement in an unsolved bombing campaign. He was sentenced to death with a two year reprieve which was later converted into life sentence.