China snatches deceased prominent Tibetan political prisoner’s ashes

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

(, Jul22, 2015) – After refusing to release his body for a traditional Buddhist funeral services but cremating it themselves in prison on Jul 16 morning, Chinese officials have snatched the ashes of the prominent Tibetan political prisoners Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, as it was being taken to his home county of Nyagchu (Chinese: Yajiang) County, Sichuan Province, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) Jul 20.

Four Tibetans who had been allowed to collect the ashes and were carrying them to Nyagchu were visited by Chinese officials in the province’s Chagsam (Luding) County where they had stopped for the night. The Tibetans were ordered to hand the ashes over or they would be forcibly taken from them and thrown into the nearby river. This incident occurred in the night of Jul 16 itself.

It remains unclear what the Chinese officials did with the ashes.

Meanwhile, there is still no word about Rinpoche’s sister Dolkar Lhamo, 55, whom police from her home county of Lithang (Litang) in Sichuan Province had taken into custody from the provincial capital Chengdu, along with her daughter Nyima Lhamo, 25, on Jul 17. The sister had petitioned the Chinese government, complaining about the authorities’ refusal to release Rinpoche’s body for traditional Tibetan Buddhist funeral services and a series of unanswered questions surrounding his death and the officials’ highly questionable manner of handing its aftermath, including their hasty cremation of his body.

Rinpoche, it may be recalled, was falsely implicated in an unsolved bomb explosions campaign as his activism in the fields of cultural and environment protection and in providing health, education and shelter for the elderly and poor had earned him immense popularity but severe resentment from the local officials. They detained him in 2002 and sentence him to death with a two-year reprieve in Jan 2003 but later commuted it to life sentence. He was allowed only one prison visit over the past 13 years.


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