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Reliable sources say that highly respected Tibetan spiritual teacher and political prisoner, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche has died in a Chinese prison in Chengdu on Sunday, July 12.

The cause of death is unclear at present but it widely known that he was suffering from a heart condition amongst other things, and that he had been denied serious medical attention for several years by the Chinese authorities. Rinpoche's relatives had been given Sunday July 12 as the day when they could visit him after being denied repeated requests for visits since 2013. However his sisters were not allowed to see Rinpoche on Sunday and were later in the day informed that he had died that same day. Requests by relatives and devotees of Rinpoche to have his body handed over to them in order to conduct proper Buddhist funeral services have been denied and the Chinese authorities have told them that he would be cremated in prison. Not being able to offer a proper funeral according to Tibetan and Buddhist traditions to an ordinary person much less a revered spiritual teacher is inconceivably painful to Tibetans who will most likely understand this as yet another act of oppression by a foreign occupying force.

The Prime Minister of the exile Tibetan administration has said that the fact that Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, "was not even allowed medical parole and last wish of followers to see him reflects continuing hard line policies of the Chinese government. Such mistreatment will only generate more resentment among Tibetans.”

Many Tibetans have widely believed that Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was wrongfully arrested and convicted in 2002 because he was becoming a respected and popular champion of Tibetan interests which the Chinese Communist Party saw as a challenge to its authority. Zhou Yongkang, former member of China's 17th Politburo Standing Committee and the country's powerful security chief who was recently sentenced to life in prison for abuse of power among other convictions was the Party boss in Sichuan province at the time of Rinpoche's arrest and many believe that Zhou had a hand in detaining the Lama and the making the false charges against him. Throughout his 13 years in prison Rinpoche had consistently stated his innocence and in an unprecedented act of devotion and belief in his innocence, 40,000 Tibetans risked their security in 2009 by signing a petition demanding justice for their teacher.

As an indication of how his case is understood by the world, The United States, the European Union and many international rights groups had called on the Chinese government to release Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche on several occasions over the last few years.

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