A Tibetan nomad imprisoned for eight years for publicly calling for the return of the Dalai Lama was released after serving his full term, his supporters said this week. Runggye Adrak was taken into custody on Aug. 1, 2007, after shouting slogans from a stage during an annual horse-racing festival in Lithang county in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province. His arrest sparked days of protests in Lithang. He was sentenced in November 2007 for "inciting to split the country" and "subverting state power." He was severely beaten and tortured in prison. "There is no information available on his [present] physical and psychological condition," The India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said in a statement. Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet has cited unconfirmed reports that this year’s festival in Lithang has been canceled "as a crackdown in the area deepens" following the unexplained July 12 death in prison of popular spiritual leader Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. (RFA, July 31)
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, died in the 13th year of a life sentence imposed for what rights groups and supporters call a wrongful conviction on a bombing charge. Authorities linked him to an April 2002 blast in Chengdu that injured three. One co-defendant was executed.
Controversy has surrounded Delek's remains. He was cremated by prison authorities on July 16 against the wishes of his family. Four days later, his ashes were forcibly taken from Tibetans who were carrying the remains to his home county of Nyagchuka (Chinese: Yajiang), according to Radio Free Asia's Tibetan Service. His sister and daughter were reportedly detained in the incident, and the Central Tibetan Administration in India is calling for their release. (UNPO, July 23; RFA, AP, July 20)