Monday, December 13, 2004

Tensin Deleg Rinpoche, 52, a Tibetan monk on death row in China still alive

A high-profile Tibetan monk on death row in China, whose
case has sparked a raft of international appeals, is
still alive and may have his sentence reduced, prison
system officials said.

"This monk has not been executed. I heard they're
considering changing his penalty to life imprisonment or
a fixed-term penalty," an official surnamed Zheng at the
southwest Sichuan province prison administrative bureau

"It's because he behaved himself well in prison."

Tensin Deleg Rinpoche, 52, was sentenced to death in
2002 after being convicted of carrying out a 2002 bomb
attack in Sichuan province's Chengdu capital, charges
which he denied.

His sentence was suspended for two years and the
suspension expired on December 2, but China, which
referred to him as a "terrorist", had refused to say
what it planned to do with him.

The US Senate, the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama
and international human rights groups stepped up
pressure for his release in recent weeks.

Protest rallies were held in London, New Delhi and other

The prison official said he did not know when a decision
would be made on a possible sentence reduction.

Officials at the prison where Tensin Deleg is being
held, Chuanzhong Prison in Nanchong city in Sichuan,
refused to comment.

Another man Lobsang Dhondup, a 28-year-old activist, was
also convicted for the bomb attack that killed one
person and injured another and other blasts in the Ganzi
region of west Sichuan.

Lobsang Dhondup denied the charges but he was executed
in January 2003, stirring international uproar.

Last week China rejected a resolution by the US Senate
that called for the monk's release, saying the case fell
within "China's internal affairs" and related to
stamping out terrorism.

"Deleg undermined the security of society and conducted
terrorist bombing activities, he would be punished in
any country," foreign ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue

In the latest appeal, hundreds of Tibetans took to the
streets of New Delhi Friday in a silent protest march to
demand his freedom, saying Tensin Deleg was innocent and
was denied a fair trial.

Suspended death sentences in China are often cut to life
imprisonment but cases involving Tibetans are treated
differently because of the political sensitivity of

China has ruled Tibet since 1951 following an invasion
of the Himalayan region, considering it an "inalienable"
part of its territory.

Since then it has routinely tried to stamp out dissent,
jailing and executing those suspected of separatism.

China executes more people every year than the rest of
the world combined.

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