By Lobsang Wangyal
MCLEOD GANJ, India, 12 July 2016
A Tibetan political prisoner and retired doctor, who is serving a 15-year term, has been awarded the inaugural ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ on Tibetan Heroes Day.
Yeshe Choedon was given the award 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.
Yeshe Choedon is currently serving a 15-year prison term on charges of providing “intelligence and information harmful to the security and interests of the state” to “the Dalai clique’s Security Department.”
A Chinese court sentenced her in 2008, but has never released any further information about her case. Despite foreign governments repeatedly raising Yeshe Choedon’s case, the Chinese government has not responded.
Choedon is said to be in poor health, and has been denied seeing her children since her sentencing.
The award was presented in absentia.
The award has been instituted by Tibetan Women’s Association and Students for a Free Tibet-India in coordination with International Tibet Network.
The organisations also launched Tibetan Heroes Day to commemorate the death anniversary of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly-respected Tibetan community leader who served 13 years in prison on false charges, and died in Chinese custody a year ago.
The award will be given in recognition of their actions to promote Tibetan human rights, including the right to self-determination, and resistance to China’s harsh rule in Tibet.
Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director of Students for a Free Tibet said, “Yeshe Choedon represents the thousands of Tibetans in or from Tibet working non-violently to promote and protect the human rights of the Tibetan people.”
Dolma Yangchen, President of Tibetan Women’s Association said, “By honouring Yeshe Choedon 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”.
The organisations say that Tibet is ranked the second ‘Worst of the Worst’ for political rights and civil liberties, next only to Syria.