Niece of Tulku Tenzin Delek demands investigation into his death

Nyima Lhamo, the niece of the late Tibetan spiritual leader Tulku Tenzin Delek, speaks during a press conference in Dharamshala, India, on 28 July 2016.

Nyima Lhamo, the niece of the late Tibetan spiritual leader Tulku Tenzin Delek, speaks during a press conference in Dharamshala, India, on 28 July 2016. Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 28 July 2016

Nyima Lhamo, the niece of the late Tibetan spiritual leader Tulku Tenzin Delek, demanded a through investigation in his death and the Chinese government accusations against him.

“My hope is that the Chinese allegation against Tenzin Delek Rinpoche be thoroughly investigated in accordance with Chinese and International law, and the Chinese authorities to reveal the true circumstances that led to the death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche,” Lhamo said with choking voice and in tears during a press conference.

Lhamo, 26, escaped to India to speak out to the world about the mystery around the death of the Tulku (a title loosely translated as “a master who comes back through rebirth after death”).

“It is a wonderful feeling to be here and feel the freedom that I have always dreamt of. I am fully aware that my speaking out on Tulku Tenzin Delek is risking the lives of my family and relatives at home,” she said.

Born in 1950 in Tibet’s Lithang area of today’s Sichuan province, Tenzin Delek travelled to india from 1982 to 1987 to study under the Dalai Lama.

In 1987 he returned home, and provided various social services in the fields of Tibetan culture, education, health, and environmental protection.

Because of his support for the Dalai Lama, and his devotion to the interests and well-being of the Tibetan people, he was considered a separatist by the Chinese government.

He was arrested in 2002 on charges of involvement in a series of bomb blasts in Chengdu city. He was sentenced to death on charges of terror and incitement of separatism a few months later. His death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2005, and later to 20 years’ imprisonment. He continued to maintain his innocence.

His assistant Lobsang Dhondup, 28, who was also convicted for the bombings, was executed in January 2003.

Tulku Tenzin Delek died on 12 July 2015 in Chengdu, China, at the age of 65.

His death was followed by calls for the release of his body in order to determine the cause of death and to carry out traditional funeral rites. One protest was met by China’s security forces opening fire, injuring several Tibetans. Chinese authorities cremated the body without an autopsy.

Nyima Lhamo was instrumental in sending information about the situation of Tulku Tenzin Delek to the outside world.

When Chinese authorities refused to hand over the dead body of Tulku, she and others from her village protested to the prison authorities for not allowing them to perform the last rituals.

At one point Lhamo attempted suicide by trying to hang herself with a scarf. She was stopped by the prison staff, who finally gave her access to see the dead body of Rinpoche.

“There, I noticed Rinpoche lips were black. But his body was covered. Following which, we accused authorities of having killed Rinpoche by poisoning,” Lhamo said.

Lhamo and her mother were detained for 18 days in Chengdu. The reason given for their detention was that they were leaking state secrets to the outside world.

“While in detention, we were interrogated whether we had shared any information on Rinpoche’s death. I responded to them that I received numerous calls from unknown callers, and did tell them Rinpoche was murdered.”


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