Tibetans in Dharamsala observe 22nd anniversary of Panchen Lama’s arbitrary detention

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, May 17: The Regional Tibetan Youth Congress (RTYC), Dharamsala along with Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) and Student’s for a Free Tibet (SFT), India today marked the 22nd anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima’s arbitrary detention by the Chinese government.

The three non-governmental organizations collectively performed a short skit on the Panchen Lama’s arrest at the main square of Mcleod Ganj and at the entrance of Tsug-lag-Khang, the main temple in the town.

Skit being performed on the 11th Panchen Lama's arrest.
Skit being performed on the 11th Panchen Lama’s arrest.

“Through this skit, we call on the Chinese government to disclose the condition and whereabouts of the Panchen Lama. We also call on the international community and world leaders to support for the Panchen Lama’s release,” the group said in their joint statement.

In another parallel program, a peace march from the Tibetan National Martyrs’ memorial at the entrance of Tsug-lag-Khang to Kacheri in lower Dharamsala was also organized by the Central Tibetan Women’s Association.

“Where is Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima? China alone can answer this. Therefore, we urge the people of the world to support us to press China to release the Panchen Lama and his family members,” Tsering Dolma, Vice President of the Central TWA said.

Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a Dharamsala-based Tibetan advocacy group said the arbitrary detention of the 11th Panchen Lama is illegal according to Chinese law.

“There was no legal basis for the detention of Gedun Choekyi Nyima. Article 34 of the Chinese Constitution provides that all citizens of the People’s Republic of China who have reached the age of 18 have the right to religious belief, education and profession,” the rights group said and added “Gedhun Choekyi Nyima must be released immediately and unconditionally to enable him to live a life of any ‘ordinary’ person with all the rights guaranteed.”

18579302_1526766974034374_1340722336_nThe advocacy group also released a special report titled ‘Inevitable Imprisonment: Arbitrary Detention and its Effects on the Exercise of Universal Rights in Tibet’ that assesses the international standards against arbitrary detention, with a discussion of the various standard-setting institutions and the ways in which these principles are enforced to observe the 22nd anniversary of the Panchen Lama’s arbitrary detention.

Born on Apr 25, 1989 in Lhari County in 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 May 14, 1995.

Three days after his enthronement, the 11th Panchen Lama was kidnapped by the Peoples Republic of China and have been held captive since May 17, 1995 along with his family members. Human Rights organizations have termed 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 prisoner and even after 22 years, the 11th Panchen Lama and his family’s whereabouts and condition still remain unknown. In his place, another child named Gyaltsen Norbu was appointed as the 11th Panchen Lama by the Chinese government.

18600592_1526767640700974_604066219_nRegardless of the concerns expressed and requests made by numerous organizations such as Human Rights organizations, Committee on the Rights of 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.