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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China denies claims it tortured revered Tibetan monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

August 1, 2016

Reuters, July 30, 2016 - China protected the rights of a Tibetan monk who died in prison, the country's foreign ministry said, responding to claims by the monk's niece that he was tortured.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, 65, had been serving a life sentence for "crimes of terror and incitement of separatism" when his family was told on July 12, 2015, that he had died of a heart attack in prison in China's southwestern city of Chengdu.

His 26-year-old niece fled to India, where she has questioned the official version of events and is appealing for justice for her uncle.

"China is a country ruled by law, during Tenzin Delek Rinponche's sentence his legal rights were protected according to relevant laws," the foreign ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters late on Saturday.

The foreign ministry repeated that he died suddenly of heart related problems and that hospital rescue efforts were ineffective.

Tenzin Delek was a senior supporter of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959. China views him as a dangerous separatist.

Activists say China has violently tried to suppress religious freedom in Tibet, criticism that Beijing rejects, saying its rule ended serfdom and brought economic development to a backward region.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Jake Spring; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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