Tibetans observe 26th anniversary of Panchen Lama’s arbitrary detention
DHARAMSALA, 17 May: The 26th anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima’s arbitrary detention by the Chinese government “is a grim reminder of the gross injustice inflicted on Tibet and Tibetans by the Chinese,” says the Kashag led by the President of the Central Tibetan Administration Dr Lobsang Sangay.
“Today, with profound sorrow, we mark the 26th anniversary of his abduction by the Chinese government. This solemn occasion is a grim reminder of the gross injustice inflicted on him as an individual, and to us as a nation,” read the statement issued by Tibetan Cabinet.
“Hence, it is imperative that we, as a community, remember and strive against this gross crime perpetrated by an unapologetic State, and to share the story of his disappearance that has continued to be enforced since 1995,” the statement added.
On 17 May 1995, three days after his recognition by the Dalai Lama, the 11th Panchen Lama was kidnapped by the Peoples Republic of China and has been held captive since then along with his family members. He has not been seen in public ever since.
The exile Tibetan government launched a book titled “Tibet’s Stolen Child: Remembering the Story of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima”, today in the hope that their prayers for the release of the Panchen Lama and his family and their wellbeing be answered.
Zeekyab Khenpo, the abbot of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Bylakuppee, south India, the exile seat of the Panchen Lama today said in the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy’s Video campaign calling on China to end the 11th Panchen’s enforced disappearance that the Panchen Lama’s case is significant to the whole world and urged for continued support until he is freed.
“The Panchen Lama’s case is not just significant to the Tibetans and the people of the Himalayan region, it is also significant to the whole world. Therefore, until the Panchen Lama is released or there is clarity in his case, I urge everyone to continue with your support and efforts,”
TCHRD called the Panchen Lama’s enforced disappearance a “serious international crime,” as they called for his immediate and unconditional release.
“The continued enforced disappearance of Panchen Lama is a serious international crime. we urge you to join our campaign to pressure the Chinese government to respect the concerns expressed by the international community and to release the Panchen Lama and his family members immediately without conditions,” said Tenzin Dawa, TCHRD’s Senior Program Officer
The Tibetan Parliament in Exile today said it is “gravely concerned about this continuing tragic situation,” appealed to the international community of “impartial governments, parliaments, and non-governmental bodies across the world,” to continue to campaign for his release and to press China over the matter.
“The absolute wish of all the Tibetan people is for the 11th Panchen Lama to be freed from the oppression of the government of China, to be able to see and hear him, and, on that basis, to be able to usher him to the golden throne at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, the seat occupied by all the previous successive Panchen Lama reincarnations,” read the statement of the Tibetan Parliament.
Exiled Tibetans across the world marked the anniversary by staging protests in front of the Chinese embassies as they renewed their call for their revered spiritual leader’s immediate release and called on China to stop meddling in Tibet’s centuries-old and deeply rooted Buddhist system of recognizing their reincarnated lamas.
Meanwhile, on a rare occasion in 2015, China has maintained that the Panchen Lama is “living a normal life” and “does not want to be disturbed.”
Last year, just days after the 25th anniversary of the Gendun Choekyi Nyima’s arbitrary detention by the Chinese government, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian has said that Tibet’s second-highest spiritual leader is now “a college graduate with a job.”
Born on 25 Apr 1989 in Lhari County in the Nagchu region of eastern Tibet, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima 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 Peoples Republic of China and has been held captive since 17 May 1995 along with his family members. He has not been seen in public ever since.
Human Rights organizations have called him the youngest political prisoner in the world.
Today the world’s youngest political prisoner has turned into one of the world’s longest-serving political prisoners and even after 26 years, the 11th Panchen Lama and his family’s whereabouts and condition remain unknown. In his place, another child named Gyaltsen Norbu was appointed as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Chinese government.
Regardless of the concerns expressed and requests made by numerous organizations such as Human Rights organizations, Committee on the Rights of the child, United Nation’s Human Rights Council, and Tibetan non-governmental organizations, the Chinese authorities have disclosed no information at all about the well being and whereabouts of Tibet’s lost child.