Publication: China Brief Volume: 3 Issue: 7

by Wangchuk Meston

On January 26, 2003, in Sichuan province, China executed Lobsang Dondrup, a Tibetan political prisoner, on allegations of having been involved in bombings aimed at supporting Tibetan independence. The execution, together with the suspended death sentence received by alleged coconspirator Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, is an alarming development and the latest chapter in Beijing’s continued subjugation of Tibet.

Lobsang Dondrup, 28, was arrested in April of 2002 following an explosion in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan. Within days of Dondrup’s arrest, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, a highly respected lama, was also taken into custody. This was not the first time that local authorities had tried to arrest him. They had made an attempt several years before the bombings, but local authorities were frustrated at that time by popular support for Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche. Members of his community, including Chinese followers, bravely wrote petitions praising the lama for his valuable leadership role in promoting community welfare.

After several attempts, the police finally arrested Tenzin Deleg Rinponche on April 7, 2002. On December 2, both Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche and Lobsang Dondrup were sentenced to death for their alleged involvement in a series of unrelated bombings that reportedly had taken place between January 2001 and April 2002. On January 26, 2003, in a closed hearing, the court placed Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche’s sentence on a two-year reprieve and upheld the death sentence of Lobsang Dondrup. The execution was reportedly carried out within hours of the proceedings at the Higher People’s Court of Sichuan Province.