(TibetanReview.net, Jul16, 2015) – About a hundred Tibetans were reported to have gathered outside a prison in Chengdu, capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan, on Jul 14 to demand the release of the body of their revered religious leader who had died there on Jul 12 under questionable circumstances. The leader, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, 65, was serving a life-sentence after being convicted in 2002 in a false bombing charge because the authorities in his home town of Nyagchu (Chinese: Yajiang) resented his popularity for his religious stature and environmental, charitable, community and cultural activism.
“About a hundred have now arrived at the prison site where Rinpoche died, though it is difficult to give an exact figure,” Radio Free Asia (Washington) Jul 14 quoted a man named Jamyang Nyendrak, a Tibetan living in exile in Europe, as saying, citing his local contacts. Many of them were reported to be monks and nuns from Rinpoche’s monastery in Nyagchu County.
Nine people, including two sisters of Rinpoche, were already present in Chengdu, having travelled there from Sichuan’s Lithang (Litang) County two weeks before his reported death in Chuandong Prison, Dazhu County, to seek a prison visit. One of the sisters was said to continue to remain outside the gate of the Prison Management Bureau in Dazhu County since Jul 12 in protest.
Meanwhile, further reports suggest that many Tibetans were injured and taken to hospital after Chinese police had opened fire on a gathering of around 1000 of them before government offices in Nagchu County on Jul 13, demanding the release of Rinpoche’s body for carrying out the last rites.
Initially a group of representatives from the local monks and laypeople had sought a meeting with government officials to discuss the issue. However, the officials responded by beating them with great brutality, provoking the angry crowd to storm the township government building. The paramilitary armed police then opened fire on the crowd, using live bullets as well as teargas shells.