‘The Fast Against a Furious Government’
(The Afternoon | November 11, 2004)

"Sentenced to death for the crime he never committed" shouts a slogan at the relay hunger strike at Azad Maidan. The Tibetans from in and around Mumbai have gathered here for the five-day strike, being anticipated for the release of Trulku Tenzin Delek, a 53-year-old religious leader from Tibet, who has been sentenced to death by the Chinese government in Tibet.

Delek, who is revered as the reincarnated lama by Tibetans, was supposedly a growing threat to the Chinese government for his role as a social activist. He was hence, detained on April 7, 2002 and was sentenced to death on December 2, 2002.

Interestingly, Delek was born in India and was never politically active like his counterparts in the country. But this popularity as a religious leader in Tibet earned him the title of a 'terrorist', courtesy the Communist government in Tibet. "He is a social activist, a symbol of people's wishes and beliefs. If we allow him to die, then we are not supporting the non-violence movement for which the Tibetans are famous for," said Tenzin Tsundue, general secretary, Friends of Tibet (FoT).

However, strikes like the one in the city, which was started on Saturday, are being anticipated by Tibetans world over has caught the attention globally. "It is not just a Tibetan issue," said one of the FoT member who is participating in the hunger strike.

The strike also has a signature campaign going on alongside. "I believe in the strength of awareness. If more people know about it then China will find it difficult to execute the death sentence," commented Tenzin about the campaign. These papers will later be submitted to Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General.

An international campaign by Tibetans, Tibet Support Groups, human rights advocacy groups and some governments is underway to prevent his execution and ensure his release.

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The Case of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche