DHARAMSHALA: The UN, EU & Human Rights Desk of Department of Information and International Relations, CTA facilitated a press conference for Ms Nyima Lhamo – late Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s niece, at Lhakpa Tsering hall today.

Nyima Lhamo, 26, who recently escaped to India from Tibet, spoke about the situation before and after the death of Rinpoche, and the ongoing grim situation in Lithang pertaining to Rinpoche’s case.

Addressing the press conference, Nyima Lhamo said she confronted many challenges and problems inorder to share the suffering of her late uncle Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and of Tibetans inside Tibet. “Despite all the challenges and hardships, I managed to escape Tibet. My uncle Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche suffered immensely and passed away in Chinese prison. Likewise many Tibetans have suffered and continue to suffer under the repressive Chinese rule. My hope is that the Chinese allegation against Rinpoche be thoroughly investigated in accordance with Chinese and International law, and the Chinese authorities to reveal the true circumstances that led to Rinpoche’s death.”

Recounting the details of circumstances during the time of Rinpoche’s death, Nyima Lhamo narrated, “Soon after we were informed of Rinpoche’s death, around 300 Tibetan people gathered at the Lithang county office to demand for return of Rinpoche’s body to perform final rituals. After repeated appeals, the local Lithang county officials finally allowed nine people to appeal at Chengdu county office.”

Although Nyima was not among the nine people, who were allowed to appeal at Chengdu, she somehow managed to reach Chengdu and staged protests against the local police authorities demanding for the return of Rinpoche’s body. Nyima revealed that only after she attempted suicide by trying to hang herself with a scarf outside the Chengdu Prison, the Chinese prison authorities stopped her and gave access to see Rinpoche’s body. “I noticed Rinpoche’s lips were black. But his body was covered. Following which, we accused authorities of having killed Rinpoche by poisoning. “After making the accusations, Nyima and her mother were detained for 18 days in Chengdu on charges for ‘leaking state secrets to the outside world.”

While in detention, they were repeatedly interrogated by the Chinese authorities. The authorities also demanded that Nyima and her mother sign a document, containing three conditions for their release. The conditions were: no information on Rinpoche shall be shared in Tibet and China, no accusations shall be made against the Chinese authorities that Rinpoche had died of poisoning and no discussion on Rinpoche’s death at any public gathering and to the outside world.

Nyima and her mother categorically refused to sign the conditions. They were informed later that the village leader had signed the conditions on their behalf and were strictly instructed to follow his directions on their release.

Addressing the ongoing situation in Lithang, she disclosed that Chinese authorities have issued legal orders in an covert attempt to discredit Rinpoche and his position as a revered Tibetan spiritual master.

Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a highly respected Tibetan spiritual figure and one of the most prominent Tibetan political prisoners. He died under mysterious circumstances on Sunday, 12 July 2015, while serving a life sentence in Chuandong prison in the southwestern Chinese Provincial city of Chengdu. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was widely revered by Tibetans for his efforts to protect the degradation Tibetan culture and religion from the onslaught of repressive Chinese policies. He was also known for his efforts to safeguard Tibet’s fragile environment by advocating against illegal mining and pollution of river waters in Tibet.

He was arrested by Chinese authorities in 2002 in a politically motivated charge accusing of being involved in a bomb blast that occurred in Chengdu city. The real reason for his arrest by Chinese authorities is believed to be his growing popularity among the public and for his staunch loyalty to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve on 2 December 2002 even though Rinpoche has maintained innocence in all the Chinese allegations. Rinpoche’s death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment on 24 January following massive campaigns by Tibetans in exile and appeals from international human rights organisations for his release.