on International Human Rights Day!
Three years ago today, a respected Buddhist leader in Tibet, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, was unjustly sentenced to death for "incitement to separatism". His case stirred an international controversy for its lack of evidence and due process, including access to counsel, earlier this year, in Tenzin Delek's death sentence being commuted to life imprisonment. But Tenzin Delek remains in a Chinese prison for a crime he did not commit. He has reportedly been tortured and his physical condition has deteriorated.
Last year, Phuntsog Nyidron, one of Tibet's most prominent political prisoners and the longest serving female political prisoner, was released from Lhasa's notorious Drapchi Prison. Sentenced in 1989 to 17 years for peacefully expressing her devotion to Tibet and the Dalai Lama, Nyidron underwent extreme beatings during her imprisonment.
In August, a delegation of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom met with Nyidron in Lhasa, Tibet, and subsequently reported that she now has "debilitating health problems that required special medical attention and limited her ability to make a living as a farmer in the village where she now resides". Unable to address these health concerns because of a lack of money and restrictions on her movement, the delegation recommended that China issue her a passport immediately to facilitate needed medical treatment.
We know that the decisions not to execute Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and to release Phuntsog Nyidron were influenced by the immense amount of international pressure placed on the Chinese government over these cases. But both individuals continue to face grave risks due to their mistreatment in prison. As we count down to International Human Rights Day on December 10, we must be mindful that China's poor history of human rights remains a key issue and one which must be addressed.
Act now! Call on the new US Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
to be uncompromising in his efforts to promote democracy and human rights in China and, specifically, to help secure Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's release and travel documentation for Phuntsog Nyidron.
ICT Campaigns Team