BEIJING: A Tibetan monk who was one of China’s most prominent political prisoners has died in prison, a relative and human rights activists said on Monday, raising the prospect of an increase in resentment of the government in Tibetan regions. A large amount of security forces have been deployed in response, the organisation said, with government offices working through the night on Sunday.
Tibet’s government-in-exile said the cause of death remained unclear and that Chinese authorities had so far refused to return the body to his family.
His family called for authorities to release his body. The sentence was later commuted to life in prison and then to 20 years.
“Despite all our efforts at the global level to get his release and lately for his medical treatment, China has disregarded all global pleas on his behalf”, said Tashi Phuntsok, spokesman for the India-based administration.
“He is one of the most respected leaders”, said Dorjee Tseten, Asia director of Students for a Free Tibet. The two men’s cases drew condemnation from the European Union and rights groups at the time.
Last year, his family applied for medical parole because he suffered from a heart condition, high blood pressure and dizzy spells.
“Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was an innocent monk who suffered over 13 years of unjust imprisonment, torture and abuse in a Chinese prison for simply advocating for the rights and wellbeing of his people and for expressing his devotion to His Holiness the Dalai Lama”, said his cousin Geshe Nyima.
In India, exiled Tibetans marched Monday in New Delhi and in Dharmsala, where the Dalai Lama has lived since fleeing Tibet in 1959, carrying placards reading, “We want justice”, and “Murdered in Prison”.
The Dalai Lama celebrated his final nights of his United States birthday celebration by meditating alongside House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett on Friday.
China, which has ruled Tibet since 1951, has been accused of trying to wipe out its Buddhist-based culture through political and religious repression and a flood of immigration by Han Chinese, the country’s ethnic majority.