Statements read at the Press Conference on Prisoners of Conscience in China

Statement of Tamdin Choetso

Niece of Tibetan Political Prisoner Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Thank you for the opportunity to make this statement. My name is Tamdin Choestso and I am the niece of Tibetan Political Prisoner Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Twelve years ago my uncle was detained. The Ganzi Intermediate People’s Court alleged that his case involved “state secrets” and tried him in a closed court on November 29, 2002. The court sentenced him to death with a two-year reprieve for conspiring to cause explosions and 14 years in prison for inciting “splittism.” The Sichuan High People’s Court rejected his appeal and commuted the sentence to life imprisonment on January 26, 2005.

As a child, I was very close to my uncle. He lived in our home with my family and he was very fond of me, always allowing me to sit on his lap and played with me whenever I asked. He was my favorite uncle. As I grew older, I appreciated his kindness and gentleness even more and grew to respect him also as a leader, always working for the benefit of others. It was these qualities that helped him successfully start work in the Orthok monastery in Nyagchu County in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. He built a school, an orphanage, an elder’s home and several medical clinics to help the poor people of the area. He has worked to protect Tibet’s fragile environment as well. He continued his work until his arrest.

The Chinese government did not show any evidence to say my uncle was involved in any subversion or explosions. He did not have a fair trial. Despite many assurances to the US government and others, the Chinese government did not give him a fair trial. Today after 12 years in prison my uncle is very sick. His sisters who met him last year after great difficulty told me that his face is completely changed. There is no resemblance to his previous self. He is suffering from heart and liver ailments. He is very sick and our whole family can do nothing but worry. But despite his illness and more than a decade of imprisonment his spirit has not diminished. He asked his relatives to “Please appeal for justice for me.” So I ask you all to carry out his wishes, to make his voice heard from the prison – Appeal for justice for him. Ask the Chinese government to release him. Ask the Chinese government to release all prisoners of conscience.

Thank you.


Statement of Thinley Kelsang

Tibetan from Ngaba

ICT's Tencho Gyatso with Thinley Kelsang on Capitol Hill.

ICT’s Tencho Gyatso with Thinley Kelsang on Capitol Hill.

Hello, my name is Thinley Kalsang. I am a Tibetan-American who lives in Queens, New York City. I am here today to speak on the cases of three political prisoners Lobsang Kunchok, Lobsang Tsering and Dolma Kyab.

My family comes from Thewo, which is next to Ngaba. This is in the Tibetan region of Amdo, which you will find on maps in the Chinese province of Sichuan. Thewo is also the birthplace of His Eminence Kirti Rinpoche, the head of the Kirti Monastery, in Ngaba with whom my family has close ties.

Kirti Rinpoche, testified to Congress of the “wounds of three generations.” At first, Chinese authorities destroyed our monasteries and killed monks. In recent years, they have forced monks to pledge loyalty to the Communist Party and desecrate images of the Dalai Lama. The people of Tibet, and the Kirti monks in particular, are protesting the destruction of our culture and denial of religious freedom.

In January 2013, a monk named Lobsang Kunchok was given a death sentence (suspended for two years) and his nephew, a monk named Lobsang Tsering was given a 10 year sentence. Officially, they were charged with “intentional homicide” for allegedly aiding self-immolations. They were not allowed to choose their lawyers. No evidence was made public. The cases were not handled according to Chinese criminal law.

In August 2013, a Tibetan lay man, Dolma Kyab, was given a death sentence. He is charged of killing his wife and burning her body to make it look like she had self-immolated. The trial was held in secret and state media made no mention of any evidence other than a “confession” by Dolma Kyab. Dolma Kyab did not receive a fair trial. Tibetan sources say he was tortured and he has declared his innocence.

I do not know Lobsang Kunchok, Lobsang Tsering and Dolma Kyab, but I consider them as brothers since we are from the close-knit community of Ngaba. They are not murderers. These are made-up charges. They have been imprisoned for a political purpose — given severe sentences in an effort to intimidate the Tibetan community and to discourage further acts of self-immolation.

In China, rule of law is a fiction. These cases prove this is the sad reality in Tibet too. I ask the U.S. government to appeal to the Chinese government to commit to the rule of law as promised. Show us the evidence for Lobsang Kunchok, Lobsang Tsering and Dolma Kyab. Show us the charges. Tell us why the proper legal procedure wasn’t followed. And until you can, please release these three Tibetan men, so that they have the opportunity to prove their innocence and to challenge fairly and properly the false charges against them.

Thank you.

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