Yeshe Choedron awarded inaugural ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’

[14 July 2016] A new international award for Tibetan human rights defenders has been bestowed upon political prisoner Yeshe Choedron, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence in a Chinese prison. 

The ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ recognises the actions of current and released Tibetan political prisoners to promote freedom and human rights in Tibet. (Read press release below.)

Yeshe ChoedronYeshe Choedron (pictured right), a retired medical doctor, was sentenced in 2008 to 15 years in prison for allegdly providing information to the “Dalai Clique’s Security Department”. However, no evidence was given at her trial. She is known to be in very poor health and has been denied visits from her children. 

The announcement of the inaugural ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ was made on the first anniversary of the death of the highly regarded Tibetan community leader and human rights defender. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died on 12 July 2015 in a Chinese prison whilst serving a life sentence on false charges. 

The winner was announced at a special ceremony at Norbu House in Dharamsala on 12 July. The award was organised by International Tibet Network, with nominations made by the Political Prisoner Working Group members (including Tibet Society). The judging panel included Geshe Nyima (Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s cousin), Sophie Richardson (Human Rights Watch), Shao Jiang (Amnesty International UK) and members of the International Tibet Network Steering Committee. 

Tibet Society will be releasing a campaign calling for Yeshe Choedron’s release in due course.

Yeshe Choedron banner

Press Release, issued by International Tibet Network

Tibetan political prisoner and retired doctor, Yeshe Choedron, awarded the inaugural ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’; a new international Tibetan human rights defenders award

[12 July 2016, Dharamsala] Yeshe Choedron, a Tibetan, medical doctor, has been awarded the first ‘Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage’ in recognition of her courage and dedication to promoting Tibetan human rights and justice for the Tibetan people.

“It is a huge honour for us to bestow Yeshe Choedron with this special award in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s memory, and dedicated to all Tibetans in Tibet who continue to bravely resist China’s rule”, said Nyima Lhamo, Asia Coordinator of the International Tibet Network

The announcement of the award comes at a time of intense crackdown by Chinese authorities in Tibet. In May 2016 Human Rights Watch reported that Tibetans are at the forefront of the Chinese government’s country-wide crackdown on peaceful dissent. [1] Earlier in the year Freedom House’s assessment of political and civil freedoms in countries around the world ranked Tibet as the 2nd ‘Worst of the Worst’, with only Syria scoring lower. [2]

Yeshe Choedron was sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly providing “intelligence and information harmful to the security and interests of the state” to “the Dalai clique’s security department”. China has never released any further information about her case and, despite foreign governments repeatedly raising Yeshe Choedron’s case. Tibetan sources who know Yeshe Choedron report that she has not been able to see her children since her sentencing and she is reported to be in very poor health.

“The ‘Medal of Courage’ is being awarded on the anniversary of the death of highly regarded Tibetan community leader and human rights defender, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who died in custody in a Chinese prison having spent over 13 years in prison on politicized charges,” [3] said Dorjee Tseten, Asia Director of Students for a Free Tibet. “Yeshe Choedron, this year’s recipient, represents the thousands of Tibetans in or from Tibet working non-violently to promote and protect the human rights of the Tibetan people.”

“By honoring Yeshe Choedron we pay tribute to her courage and the courage of thousands of other Tibetans in or from Tibet who have spent years of their lives unfairly imprisoned or detained for the important role they have played in the struggle for Tibetan freedom”, said Dolma Yangchen, President of Tibetan Women’s Association.

Yeshe Choedron, who is still incarcerated for her actions in support of human rights in Tibet, was awarded the Tenzin Delek Rinpoche Medal of Courage in absentia.

The inaugural ‘Tibetan Heroes Day’ was also launched today; an annual event held to highlight the width and breadth of ongoing Tibetan resistance, and the courage of the Tibetan people to continue to stand up for freedom in Tibet.

Dhardon Sharling – Co-Chair, International Tibet Network: +91-9418791189
Dolma Yangchen – President, Tibetan Women’s Association: +91-8351807472
Dorjee Tseten – Asia Director, Students for a Free Tibet: +91-9805941166

[1] Human Rights Watch: China: Repression Expands Under ‘Stability Maintenance’ in Tibetan Areas 
[2] Freedom House: Freedom in the World 2016
[3] New York Times: Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Tibetan Religious Leader, Dies in Chinese Custody 


Tibet Society, the world’s first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. Annual membership £24; Family £36; Life £500.


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