DHARAMSALA, 27 April: A day after the US pressed China for the whereabouts and well-being of the 11th Panchen Lama and to allow him to fully exercise his human rights and fundamental freedoms, China has hit back saying we firmly oppose the US interference in China’s internal affairs on Tibet-related issues under the pretext of religion.
However, instead of disclosing any information on the 11th Panchen Lama, who remains missing since the Chinese abducted him as a six-year-old child on May 17, 1995, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin has said that “China firmly opposes U.S. interference in China’s internal affairs on Tibet-related issues under the pretext of religious freedom.”
Reacting to the statement issued by the US state department on the 33rd birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama that urged China to “account for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s whereabouts and well-being,” the Chinese state-run Xinhua quoted Wang as saying that “the so-called reincarnated child is just an ordinary Chinese citizen living a normal life. He and his family do not want their normal life to be disturbed by others.”
Additionally, Wang has said that “For the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama and other grand Living Buddhas, a complete set of methods and procedures have been established over the centuries, and the religious rituals and historical conventions, as well as the Chinese laws, need to be complied with in this process.”
Commemorating the 33rd birth anniversary of the Panchen Lama and acknowledging that China “continues to deny members of the Tibetan community access to the Dalai Lama-designated Panchen Lama, the second most revered figure in Tibetan Buddhism, and instead continues to promote a state-selected proxy,” since his abduction by the Chinese authorities since he was a six-year-old child, the US has urged “PRC authorities to account for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s whereabouts and well-being immediately and to allow him to fully exercise his human rights and fundamental freedoms, in line with the PRC’s international commitments. The United States supports Tibetans’ religious freedom and their unique religious, cultural, and linguistic identity, including Tibetans’ right to select, educate, and venerate their own leaders, like the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, according to their own beliefs and without government interference.”
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 nearly 27 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.