(TibetanReview.net, Jan15’22) – Chinese authorities in a Tibetan area annexed to Sichuan Province had seized in Jun 2021 a life-size statue of a locally popular and revered religious leader who had died in prison in Jul 2015 under questionable circumstances, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jan 14. Tibetans as well as a Chinese man responsible for commissioning the statue of Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and bringing it to his home county of Lithang in Karze (Chinese: Ganzi) Prefecture were taken into custody for up to a month while his relatives were also detained and beaten, the report said.
The statue was said to have been commissioned by the late monk’s students and built by artists in Shenzhen, China.
“The initial plan was to bring Rinpoche’s statue to India, but there were too many restrictions against sending it there, so it had to be brought to Tibet and hidden away until the right opportunity to move it arose,” Tenzin Yarphel, a student of the late religious leader now living in Europe, was quoted as saying.
The statue was seized by Chinese police in Dartsedo (Kangding) County of Kardze Prefecture while being taken to Lithang County.
A Tibetan man named Kalsang Tsering who was to collect the statue and bring it to Lithang was held along with an assistant. Chinese police acknowledged holding them only after local Tibetans brought out flyers seeking information on their whereabouts. They were released after 20 days on an undertaking not to repeat any such activity.
The report continued that another Tibetan and a Chinese man who had brought the statue to Dartsedo were also held for almost 20 days.
Also held was stated to be the Tibetan man who had first arranged for the statue’s construction in Shenzhen, to be released after almost a month.
And in September, some 20 Chinese police ransacked the shrine in the home of Dolkar Lhamo, younger sister of the late rinpoche, taking away a number of items, including pictures of the Dalai Lama.
Dolkar Lhamo and two other family members were detained for about 18 days to be beaten and tortured while being questioned.
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, was into the 13th of his 22-year jail sentence after being falsely accused of bombing a public square in Sichuan’s capital Chengdu in Apr 2002 when he died in prison in Sichuan on Jul 12, 2015.
He was known to be close to Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and popular for his philanthropic and environmental works, which was resented by the local authorities.