The Chinese government has sentenced a highly-respected and prominent Tibetan lama to death in a closed trial on charges he was involved in a bombing in a public park, a leading human rights group reported.
In a 108-page report released Sunday, Human Rights Watch said allegations that the monk, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 53, financed an April 3, 2002 blast in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province that injured three people, were notproven and called for his release.
"In spite of China's rhetoric about legal reform, Tenzin Delek's case shows that when it comes to Tibet, the Chinese government still does not tolerate uncontrolled political or religious activity," said Mickey Spiegel, of Human Rights Watch's Asian division.
China's foreign ministry had no immediate reaction on Sunday.
At an appeal, Tenzin Delek's death sentence was suspended for two years, the report said, and if he does not violate the terms of the suspension, the sentence will be commuted to life in prison.
A second man, Lobsang Dondrup, 24, a distant relative of Tenzin Delek, was convicted of detonating the bomb, and was executed Jan. 26 last year the report said.
Tenzin Delek is being held at the Chuandong No. 3 Prison in Dazu County, Sichuan.
The report went on to detail what the human rights organization called a 10-year campaign to silence Tenzin Delek for being an outspoken advocate for the protection of the environment and for improved social, religious and health conditions in Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province.
Tenzin Delek's arrest and conviction also resulted in a crackdown on his family and supporters near his home, with six people sentenced to jail and 60 people interrogated, the report said.
Born in 1950 in a Tibetan area of Sichuan, Tenzin Delek went to India from 1982 to 1987 to study under the Dalai Lama.
During that time, the Dalai Lama recognized Tenzin Delek as a tulku, or a reincarnated lama. In 1987 he returned to China where he worked to establish monasteries, health clinics, small schools and orphanages, rising in prominence, the report said.
Tenzin Delek's relationship with Chinese officials took a turn for the worse in 1993, when he successfully rolled back attempts to clear-cut forests in Tibet.