Chinese authorities cremated the body of a Tibetan lama in a prison Thursday against the wishes of his family, who had wanted to perform Buddhist funeral rites on the body in his hometown, a rights group said.
The New York-based Students for a Free Tibet said Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's body was cremated in a secret prison near the one in Chengdu city in Sichuan province where he had been held for the last 13 years.
The United States, the European Union and international rights groups had called for the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, who was serving a 20-year sentence on charges of "crimes of terror and incitement of separatism."
Local police and prison authorities, contacted by phone, said they didn't know about the case.
Tenzin Delek died on Sunday while serving a life sentence on charges of financing and supporting a series of terrorist bombings and secession activities. His supporters say the charges were trumped up. The Tibetan rights group said around 30 Tibetans from his immediate family and students were allowed to see the body before the cremation and perform a short prayer. They had wanted to perform Tibetan Buddhist funeral rites on his body in Lithang, a Tibetan area of Sichuan province in southwest China.
Movie actor Richard Gere, a longstanding advocate for Tibetan rights, called the monk "one of the good men of the community'' at a hearing Tuesday in Washington at which members of the House of Representatives demanded Chinese authorities return the lama's body to his family.