The Chinese authorities have cremated the body of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche against the wishes of his family. Some members of his family were allowed to attend the cremation, which was held under tight security. Concerns remain as China continues to refuse to provide any information on the cause of his death.
The cremation took place in the morning of 16 July, near Chuandong prison in Chengdu, Sichuan province. The authorities allowed about 30 family members and students of Tenzin Delek to view the body under strict surveillance and say a few prayers before the body was cremated.
There are contradictory reports about the remains of Tenzin Delek. According to a source quoted by International Campaign for Tibet, the family were allowed to take away Tenzin Delek’s ashes, which are now being taken to his monastery in Nyagchuka county. However, other sources report the family are still awaiting to receive the ashes with the officials so far having refused to hand them over.
Further reports indicate the authorities refused to hand over any of Tenzin Delek’s belongings, which were said to have been burned.
Tenzin Delek’s sister, Dolkar Lhamo, who was able to view her brother’s body, said Chinese officials had denied her request to preserve her brother’s body for 15 days in keeping with Tibetan Buddhist traditions. She also said that Tenzin Delek’s fingernails and mouth were black adding to her suspicions as to the cause of death.
Following the cremation, family members wrote an appeal letter to the Chinese government asking for an explanation for Tenzin Delek’s death and why the body had not been returned to them. (See text of appeal via ICT)
Tibet Post International quoted Geshe Nyima, a cousin of Tenzin Delek, as saying, “I am heartbroken, but also extremely angry. My family cannot accept this. We will not stop demanding justice until we have answers. Chinese authorities denied us our right to pay our final respect to Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and refused to return his body to us for Buddhist rites. My family believes he was murdered.”
The peaceful sit-in protest outside Chuandong prison is reported to have ended.