For Immediate Release: 12 July 2016
Dhardon Sharling – Co-Chair, International Tibet Network: +91-9418791189
Dolma Yangchen – President, Tibetan Women’s Association: +91-8351807472 Dorjee Tseten – Asia Director, Students for a Free Tibet: +91-9805941166
Tibetan political prisoner and retired doctor, Yeshe Choedron, awarded the inaugural ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’; a new international Tibetan human rights defenders award.
Dharamsala: Yeshe Choedron,  a Tibetan, medical doctor, has been awarded the first ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ in recognition of her courage and dedication to promoting Tibetan human rights and justice for the Tibetan people.
“It is a huge honour for us to bestow Yeshe Choedron with this special award in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s memory, and dedicated to all Tibetans in Tibet who continue to bravely resist China’s rule”, said Nyima Lhamo, Asia Coordinator of the International Tibet Network
The announcement of the award comes at a time of intense crackdown by Chinese authorities in Tibet. In May 2016 Human Rights Watch reported that Tibetans are at the forefront of the Chinese government’s country-wide crackdown on peaceful dissent.  Earlier in the year Freedom House’s assessment of political and civil freedoms in countries around the world ranked Tibet as the 2nd ‘Worst of the Worst’, with only Syria scoring lower. 
Yeshe Choedron was sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly providing “intelligence and information harmful to the security and interests of the state” to “the Dalai clique’s security department”.  China has never released any further information about her case and, despite foreign governments repeatedly raising Yeshe Choedron’s case. Tibetan sources who know Yeshe Choedron report that she has not been able to see her children since her sentencing and she is reported to be in very poor health.
“The ‘Medal of Courage’ is being awarded on the anniversary of the death of highly regarded Tibetan community leader and human rights defender, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who died in custody in a Chinese prison having spent over 13 years in prison on politicized charges”  said Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “Yeshe Choedron, this year’s recipient, represents the thousands of Tibetans in or from Tibet working non-violently to promote and protect the human rights of the Tibetan people.”
“By honoring Yeshe Choedron we pay tribute to her courage and the courage of thousands of other Tibetans in or from Tibet who have spent years of their lives unfairly imprisoned or detained for the important role they have played in the struggle for Tibetan freedom”, said Dolma Yangchen, President of Tibetan Women’s Association.
Yeshe Choedron, who is still incarcerated for her actions in support of human rights in Tibet, was awarded the Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage in absentia.
The inaugural ‘Tibetan Heroes Day’ was also launched today; an annual event held to highlight the width and breadth of ongoing Tibetan resistance, and the courage of the Tibetan people to continue to stand up for freedom in Tibet.
- Image of Yeshe Choedron prior to her arrest and sentence can be downloaded from https://www.dropbox.com/s/jcli8b570siljg7/yeshe%20choedron.jpg?dl=0
- Human Rights Watch: China: Repression Expands Under ‘Stability Maintenance’ in Tibetan Areas https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/22/china-repression-expands-under-stability-maintenance-tibetan-areas
- Freedom House, ‘Freedom in the World 2016’, https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FH_FITW_Report_2016.pdf
- New York Times: Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Tibetan Religious Leader, Dies in Chinese Custody http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/14/world/asia/tenzin-delek-rinpoche-tibetan-religious-leader-dies-in-chinese-custody.html?_r=0