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Cultural Rights for Ethnic Minorities

DATE: July 9, 2008

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a renowned and popular Tibetan Buddhist leader, remains in prison serving a life sentence for "crimes of terror and incitement of separatism." Prior to his arrest, he was active in promoting Tibetan education and culture in his home region, the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The persecution of religious leaders like Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is part of a broader effort to suppress religious practices by ethnic minorities in China, particularly in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
The central government and local authorities must address the root causes of the protests, including fundamental social and economic inequalities, and engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama to peacefully resolve these concerns.
— Sharon Hom, Human Rights in China Executive Director
"The March protests in the TAR and surrounding areas grew out of decades of continual repression, rights abuses, and the suppression of religious leaders like Tenzin Delek Rinpoche," said Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom. "The central government and local authorities must address the root causes of the protests, including fundamental social and economic inequalities, and engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama to peacefully resolve these concerns."

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a prominent advocate of Tibetan schools, orphanages and monasteries. He was also an outspoken advocate of environmental and cultural protections, and protested the extensive local logging that lined the pockets of local officials. As a community leader and effective mediator, he was a political target in the eyes of the Chinese authorities.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was convicted of "terror and incitement to separatism" in a trial that raised serious due process concerns. He is currently being held at the Chuandong Prison in Sichuan Province, has been subjected to torture, and is reportedly in ill-health. The United States Senate and the European Parliament passed resolutions in 2004 and 2005, respectively, calling for his release.

Human Rights in China calls on the Chinese government to immediately release Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and other religious leaders who continue to be detained as prisoners of conscience. The Chinese government must also urgently re-examine its policies and attitudes towards its treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, who continue to be denied their right to preserve their cultural heritage, practice their religious beliefs, or have access to religious education and training.


For additional information about Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, see:


About Human Rights in China
Founded by Chinese students and scholars in March 1989, Human Rights in China (HRIC) is an international, Chinese, non-governmental organization with a mission to promote international human rights and advance the institutional protection of these rights in the People's Republic of China.



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