DHARAMSALA, 25 April: Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) today flagged off its Peace rallies across India to commemorate the 30th birth anniversary of 11th Panchen Lama Gendun Chekyi Nyima.
To flag off its ‘Panchen Lama Peace March’ from Dharamsala to Chandigarh, a function was organised at the Tibetan National Martyrs’ memorial located at the entrance of Tsug-lak-Khang, the main temple in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala earlier today.
The event was attended by the Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok and advisor of Dharamsala Indo-Tibetan Friendship Association Ram Swaroop as the chief guest and special guest respectively along with several Tibetan MPs and heads f Tibetan NGOs.
“Today is a day of joy yet at the same time a day to grief. Today in actual should be a celebratory day to mark the 30th birthday of 11th Panchen Lama, however, we are reminded at the same time that it has been 24 years since his disappearance,” TWA said in their press release.
The Tibetan Women’s Association urged the Indian government and Tibet support groups to put pressure on the Chinese government to reveal unequivocally about the whereabouts and condition of 11th Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima and further urged the Indian government to pressurize and persuade the Chinese government for Panchen Lama’s immediate release.
A total of 93 Tibetans began their peace march from Dharamsala to Chandigarh. The participants have come from Bir, Dalhousie, Dharamsala, Ladakh, Manali, Shimla, Riwalsar (Tso-Pema). While the youngest of them is a 4-year-old child, the oldest is an 83-year-old senior citizen.
“We (a total of 11 marchers and two nurses) have come here voluntarily all the way from Dalhousie to commemorate Panchen Lama’s birthday and to demand his immediate release,” Dawa Lhamo, the group’s leader said.
Tsering Yangzom from Shimla said that this is the second time that she is taking part in such peace march after 13 years, “its pity that the whereabouts and the present status of the Panchen Lama are still unknown,” she said with a pensive look in her eye.
Apart from the Dharamsala to Chandigarh peace march, the Central and the regional chapters of TWA in India have organized Peace rallies across India; Dehradun to New Delhi,(now curtailed due to India’s general election; the participants taking a bus ride for a part of the distance) Gangtok to Salugara, Nagpur to Chhattisgarh and Mysore to Bengaluru. around 900 TWA members will take part in the ‘Panchen Lama Peace March’ across India.
Gendun Choekyi Nyima, born on 25 April 1989, in Lhari County in Nagchu region of eastern Tibet was recognized as the 11th Panchen Lama by His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama at the tender age of 6 on 14 May 1995.
Three days after his enthronement, the 11th Panchen Lama was kidnapped by the Chinese government and have been held captive since 17 May 1995, along with his family members.
Today the world’s youngest political prisoner has turned into one of the world’s longest-serving political prisoner and even after 24 years, the 11th Panchen Lama and his family’s whereabouts and condition still remains unknown. In his place, another child named Gyaltsen Norbu was appointed as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Chinese government.