China lets out prison-deceased prominent Tibetan monk’s sister, niece after two-week detention

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's sister Dolkar Lhamo, in a recent photo. (Photo courtesy: RFA)
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s sister Dolkar Lhamo, in a recent photo. (Photo courtesy: RFA)

(, Aug09, 2015) – China has released without charge two women relatives of a prominent Tibetan Buddhist monk named Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche whose Jul 12 prison death under suspicious circumstances had let to protests in his home county of Nyagchu (Chinese: Yajiang) in Sichuan Province and an international outrage. Dolkar Lhamo, 55, sister of the 65-year-old deceased monk, and her daughter Nyima Lhamo, about 25, were released on July 30.

The two had been detained on Jul 17 from Sichuan’s capital Chengdu on suspicion of having given to contacts outside the country information about the unnatural death of the monk who was known for his environmental, philanthropic, cultural and social works. He was serving a life-sentence after initially being given the death penalty with a two-year reprieve in 2002 on a false explosions campaign charge. China claimed the monk died of a heart attack, but eye-witnesses have been cited as saying there were tell-tale signs of poisoning. Besides, authorities cremated his body in prison rather than releasing his body for performing the last rites. They also seized the monk’s ashes as they were being taken to his home county.

According to Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Aug 7, the authorities had imposed stringent security measures in the deceased monk’s home county. The communication lines remained blocked while mobile phones belonging to his relatives had been confiscated, it added. Besides, security forces had been deployed to prevent lay Tibetans from attending prayer services for the deceased monk, including at his own monastery.

The physical and psychological conditions of the two women after their release remain unknown.


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