Tibetan protesters demand release of monk's body

July 16, 2015 08:53
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, shown in this 1999 photo, died in prison on Sunday. His family, backed by protesters, is demanding the release of his body but prison officials said it will be cremated. Photo: AP

Tibetan protesters have joined the family of a prominent dissident to demand the return of his body after he mysteriously died in jail.

The protesters gathered outside a prison in southwestern Sichuan province where Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died on Sunday.

Rinpoche, 65, was being held on charges of "crimes of terror and incitement of separatism", according to Reuters. 

Prison officials said they would not return Rinpoche's body, his sister, Dolkar, was quoted as saying.

A protester said officials were planning to cremate his body.

The United States has called for an investigation into his death.

On Wednesday, up to 60 Tibetans made the long journey from a heavily Tibetan part of Sichuan to Chuandong prison, shouting "return the body".

Tibetan tradition requires that the body of a deceased be returned to the family for funeral.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since troops took over the region in 1950.

Those controls often extend to ethnic Tibetan areas in other parts of China.

Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.

-- Contact us at [email protected]