Tenzin Delek, a highly respected Tibetan buddhist monk, is known to be in extremely poor health with a serious heart condition.

25 June 2015; For Immediate Release

On the eve of the United Nations Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, [1] a coalition of global Tibet groups [2] have joined together to deliver a 20 thousand strong petition [3] calling on world governments to urgently press China for the release of Tibetan Buddhist leader and long-term political prisoner, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, on medical parole. Tenzin Delek is known to be in extremely poor health with a serious heart condition and high blood pressure. [4]

Tenzin Delek has been held in detention for over 13 years for a crime that he did not commit. [5]  He is widely respected as a community leader by the people (both Tibetan and Chinese) in his home county of Lithang, eastern Tibet.

Dorjee Tseten of Students for a Free Tibet said:
“International Day for the support of Victims of Torture is a day to not just to remember victims of torture but to speak out and take action to help individuals who continue to endure suffering. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has suffered for over 13 years and needs to be released urgently, and allowed the medical treatment that he desperately needs.”

There is a strong history of heightened international diplomacy leading to China releasing Tibetan and other political prisoners on medical parole. [6]  An official application for medical parole was made by Tenzin Delek’s family in 2014 but to date the authorities have not responded to the application. The petition, submitted to governments today by Tibet campaigners, states that ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is eligible for medical parole under Chinese law, being chronically unwell and having served at least seven years of his sentence,’

Paul Bourke of Australia Tibet Council said:
“Tenzin Delek has been persecuted by the Chinese authorities simply for championing Tibetan identity and culture. During his long and wrongful detention he has been denied the most basic of human rights at the hands of his Chinese oppressors, and is now suffering the devastating physical and psychological and effects of prolonged imprisonment.”

Tenzin Jigdal of the International Tibet Network, Dharamsala, India, said: “We are extremely fearful for the life of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, and we call on world governments to press China immediately for his release on medical parole. By raising the urgent need for his parole, our governments can significantly increase the prospects of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche being released and receiving the medical care he so desperately needs.”

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was arrested in April 2002, He was secretly detained for seven months  and denied access to independent legal representation. In December 2002 he was sentenced to  sentenced to death, with a 2-year reprieve, on 2 December 2002 by the Kardze (CH: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court on charges of “crimes of terror and incitement of separatism”. His conviction was based on a confession obtained under torture by his alleged co-conspirator, Lobsang Dondrup, who was also found guilty and executed on 26 January 2003. Tenzin Delek’s case was commuted to a life sentence in 2005, and subsequently reduced to 20 years. During the trial, no evidence other than the confession of Lobsang Dondrup was offered into evidence and Tenzin Delek maintained his innocence throughout. To date, no court documents have been released, shrouding the proceedings in secrecy. [7]


Paul Bourke, Australia Tibet Council (Sydney, Australia)
E: paul.bourke@atc.org.au
T: +61 (0)419 429 526

Tenzin Jigdal, International Tibet Network (Dharamsala, India)
E: jigdal@tibetnetwork.org
T: +988 225 5516

Anna Momburg-Vanderpool, Tibet Initiative Deutschland (Berlin, Germany)
E: aktion@tibet-initiative.de
T: +49 30 42 08 15 24

Paul Golding, Tibet Society (London, UK)
E: paul@tibetsociety.com
T: +44 (0)207 923 0021

Tenzin Dolkar, Students for a Free Tibet (New York, US)
E: tdolkar@studentsforafreetibet.org
T: +1 917 664 5530

Notes to Editors

  1. At the end of 2015 the United Nations Committee Against Torture will review China’s compliance with the Convention against Torture. The level of violence directed at Tibetan political prisoners is extreme and results in Tibetans being left with severe scars following a period of detention, including paralysis, the loss of limbs, organ damage, and serious psychological trauma. See International Campaign for Tibet http://www.savetibet.org/newsroom/torture-and-impunity-29-cases-of-tibetan-political-prisoners/#sthash.O4sqWf3K.dpuf
  2. Australia Tibet Council, Students for a Free Tibet, Tibet Initiative Deutschland and Tibet Society form the Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Campaign Working Group of the International Tibet Network, a global coalition of 180 Tibet Groups working to end the human rights violations in Tibet and restore the Tibetan people’s right under international law to determine their own political, economic, social, religious, and cultural status – www.TibetNetwork.org
    3. The ‘Free Tenzin Delek Rinpoche on Medical Parole’ Petition can be viewed at www.FreeTenzinDelek.org
  3. A short report summarising Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s case is available at https://tibetnetwork.org/tenzindelek_medicalparole.
  4. ibid.
  5. Dui Hua, Medical Parole Prisoners to 2005 http://duihua.org/wp/?p=2608 and further examples of Tibetan political prisoners released on medical parole, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1OVrL7HM3f3eBazrCCobhnmzXuZ5ZJUgqanFmSP_dH5Y/edit
  6. Human Rights Watch, Trials of a Tibetan Monk. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/02/08/trials-tibetan-monk